Gateway to Opportunity? Disparities in Neighborhood Conditions Among Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Residents
A key goal of housing assistance programs is to help lower income households reach neighborhoods of opportunity. Studies have described the degree to which Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments are located in high-opportunity neighborhoods, but our focus is on how neighborhood outcomes vary across different subsets of LIHTC residents. We also examine whether LIHTC households are better able to reach certain types of neighborhood opportunities. Specifically, we use new data on LIHTC tenants in 12 states along with eight measures of neighborhood opportunity. We find that compared with other rental units, LIHTC units are located in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates, weaker labor markets, more polluted environments, and lower performing schools, but better transit access. We also find that compared with other LIHTC tenants, poor and minority tenants live in neighborhoods that are significantly more disadvantaged.
Recent research has examined the siting patterns of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments, but the reality is that the LIHTC program is not one uniform, national program. Rather, the program is administered by state allocating agencies, each of which has considerable discretion over how to allocate tax credits. In particular, each state issues a Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), which outlines the selection criteria the state will use when awarding its nine percent tax credits. Some criteria are required by the federal government, such as setting aside at least 10 percent of credits for nonprofit developers and using the minimum amount of tax credit financing feasible. However, states are also allowed to adopt additional criteria that further the state’s housing policy and other goals, such as providing set-asides for developments with existing housing subsidies, including the HOPE VI Program, or awarding bonus points for locating developments in particular types of neighborhoods. As the competition for credits has increased, it seems likely that these criteria play a greater role in shaping where tax credit developments are built.