Publications

  • Author: Amy Ellen Schwartz ×
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  • Immigrants and the Distribution of Resources within an Urban School District

    In New York City, where almost 14% of elementary school pupils are foreign-born and roughly half of these are “recent immigrants,” the impact of immigrant students on school resources may be important. While immigrant advocates worry about inequitable treatment of immigrant students, others worry that immigrants drain resources from native-born students. In this article, we explore the variation in school resources and the relationship to the representation of immigrant students. To what extent are variations in school resources explained by the presence of immigrants per se rather than by differences in student educational needs, such as poverty or language skills, or differences in other characteristics, such as race?

  • The Role of Cities in Providing Housing Assistance: A New York Perspective

    In recent years, the federal government has increasingly relied upon states and cities to create and administer social policy. This paper examines available theory and evidence regarding the appropriate role of different levels of government, focusing in particular on the role of cities. Exploring the case of New York City, the paper also offers new empirical evidence on the extent to which investments in affordable housing can help to eliminate externalities and rebuild inner city communities. The authors conclude that although cities should play a major role in administering housing programs, they should only fund them under a limited set of circumstances. Redistribution of income, a major objective of most housing subsidy programs, should generally be paid for by the federal government, not cities. In contrast, cities should consider funding housing production programs when they are part of a comprehensive strategy either to remove negative externalities or to generate positive spillovers. The authors' empirical analysis of New York City's investment in new housing suggests that housing programs can generate significant external benefits to their neighborhoods. Thus, the results point to a potentially important role for cities, based upon the spillover effects of housing construction and rehabilitation in distressed neighborhoods.

  • Housing Production Subsidies and Neighborhood Revitalization: New York City’s Ten Year Capital

    A perennial question in housing policy concerns the form that housing assistance should take. Although some argue that housing assistance should be thought of as a form of income support and advocate direct cash grants to needy households, others favor earmarked assistance—but they differ over whether subsidies should be given to the recipients as vouchers or to developers as production subsidies.

  • Estimating the External Effects of Subsidized Housing Investment on Property Values

    Although housing investment is often promoted as a tool for neighborhood improvement, prior empirical research has failed to provide convincing evidence that subsidized housing investment generates significant external effects. This paper revisits the external effects of subsidized housing investment. With the benefit of a very rich dataset, we use a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model to estimate the spillover effects of publicly-assisted housing units produced under the New York City Ten Year Plan program.

  • Has Falling Crime Driven New York City’s Real Estate Boom?

    We investigate whether falling crime has driven New York City’s post-1994 real estate boom, as media reports suggest. We address this by decomposing trends in the city’s property value from 1988 to 1998 into components due to crime, the city’s investment in subsidized low-income housing, the quality of public schools, and other factors. We use rich data and employ both hedonic and repeat-sales house price models, which allow us to control for unobservable neighborhood and building-specific effects. We find that the popular story touting the overwhelming importance of crime rates has some truth to it. Falling crime rates are responsible for about a third of the post-1994 boom in property values. However, this story is incomplete because it ignores the revitalization of New York City’s poorer communities and the large role that housing subsidies played in mitigating the earlier bust.

  • Regulatory Barriers to Housing Development in the United States

    Nothing provides as much material for comparative legal study as the great variety of rule-making that characterizes land law. Land law is perhaps the only legal area in which the leveling march of globalized uniformity has had to yield to the progressive development of local customary law.

  • Immigrant Children and Urban Schools: Evidence from NYC on Segregation and its Consequences

    For several decades, social scientists have tracked the fiscal health of American central cities with some degree of concern. Suburbanization, spawned by technological innovations, consumer preferences, and at least to some extent by government policy, has selectively pulled affluent households out of urban jurisdictions. The leaders of these jurisdictions are left with the prospect of satisfying more concentrated demands for services with a dwindling tax base, realizing that further increasing the burden they place on residents will simply drive more of them away. In the process, cities have become concentrated centers of poverty, joblessness, crime, and other social pathologies.

  • Building Homes, Reviving Neighborhoods: Spillovers from Subsidized Construction of Owner-Occupied Housing in New York City

    This article examines the impact of two New York City homeownership programs on surrounding property values.  Both programs, the Nehemiah Program and the Partnership New Homes program, subsidize the construction of affordable owner-occupied homes in distressed neighborhoods.  Our results show that during the past two decades prices of properties in the rings surrounding the homeownership projects have risen relative to their ZIP codes.  Results suggest that part of that rise is attributable to the affordable homeownership programs.

  • No Easy Answers: Cautionary Notes for Competitive Cities

    Leaders of American cities seeking to foster economic growth often look to success stories from other cities, hoping to find models and strategies to replicate. Some favorite strategies include investing in infrastructure, lowering taxes (both overall and in a targeted fashion), building sports stadiums, picking and promoting particular industries (such as "high tech"), and investing in casino gambling. But many benefits of those popular success stories are at best exaggerated and at worst apocryphal. Although the strategies sound appealing, and although each may have worked in particular well-publicized circumstances, as gambling did in Las Vegas, they are typically not successful and policymakers should be cautious in pursuing them.