Publications

  • Author: Ingrid Gould Ellen ×
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  • 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.

  • Do Neighborhoods Matter and Why?

    “Choosing a Better Life?” is the first distillation of years of research on the MTO project, the largest rigorously designed social experiment to investigate the consequences of moving low-income public housing residents to low-poverty neighborhoods. In this book, leading social scientists and policy experts examine the legislative and political foundations of the project, analyze the effects of MTO on lives of the families involved, and explore lessons learned from this important piece of U.S. social policy.

  • 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.

  • What Have We Learned from HUD’s Moving to Opportunity Program?

    “Choosing a Better Life?” is the first distillation of years of research on the MTO project, the largest rigorously designed social experiment to investigate the consequences of moving low-income public housing residents to low-poverty neighborhoods. In this book, leading social scientists and policy experts examine the legislative and political foundations of the project, analyze the effects of MTO on lives of the families involved, and explore lessons learned from this important piece of U.S. social policy.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Telecommuting and the Demand for Urban Living: A Preliminary Look at White-Collar Workers

    With recent advances in communications technology, telecommuting appears to be an increasingly viable option for many workers. For urban researchers, the key question is whether this growing ability to telecommute is altering residential location decisions and leading households to live in smaller, lower-density and more remote locations. Using the Work Schedules supplement from the 1997 Current Population Study, this paper explores this question. Specifically, it examines the prevalence of telecommuting, explores the relationship between telecommuting and the residential choices of white-collar workers and, finally, speculates about future impacts on residential patterns and urban form.

  • 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.

  • Neighborhood Effects on Health: Exploring the Links and Assessing the Evidence

    This article explores the possible causal pathways through which neighborhoods might affect health and then reviews the existing evidence. Although methodological issues make the literature inconclusive, the authors offer a provisional hypothesis for how neighborhoods shape health outcomes. They hypothesize that neighborhoods may primarily influence health in two ways: first, through relatively short-term influences on behaviors, attitudes, and health-care utilization, thereby affecting health conditions that are most immediately responsive to such influences; and second, through a longer-term process of “weathering,” whereby the accumulated stress, lower environmental quality, and limited resources of poorer communities, experienced over many years, erodes the health of residents in ways that make them more vulnerable to mortality from any given disease. Finally, drawing on the more extensive research that has been done exploring the effects of neighborhoods on education and employment, the authors suggest several directions for future research.

  • Community Development Corporations and Welfare Reform: Linkages, Roles, and Impacts

    This study examined the impact of welfare reform on housing owned by community development corporations (CDCs), investigating how early implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) affected the financial status of CDCs' affordable housing developments. Five types of financial impacts were considered: tenant incomes and employment; other tenant behaviors; late payments; turnover; and aggregate changes in CDC income and expenses. The study examined four CDCs in each of six cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York, New York; and San Francisco, California. Research methodology included interviews with CDC staff, tenant representatives, and leaders from other civic institutions; follow-up questionnaires of key respondents; and focus groups with tenants. Overall, among those organizations that engaged in various nonhousing activities or viewed their missions as including community development in broader terms, many were already providing job training, child care, or other social services that might be thought of as responding to welfare reform. These groups reported that such efforts had little to do with the advent of welfare reform. While many CDC staffers were concerned about the impact of welfare reform laws on impoverished communities, they reported little evidence of increased problems and found most changes in their neighborhoods to be positive.