Publications

  • 31 Flavors of Inclusionary Zoning: Comparing Policies From San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Suburban Boston

    As housing costs have risen in the U.S. and federal subsidies for affordable housing programs have declined, inclusionary zoning (IZ) has become an increasingly popular local policy for producing low-income housing without direct public subsidy. The structure of IZ policies can vary in a number of ways; consequently, there is not yet a consensus about what policies constitute “true” inclusionary zoning. In this paper we compare the ways in which IZ programs have been structured in three regions in which it is relatively widespread and long-standing. Our results demonstrate that IZ programs are highly complex and exhibit considerable variation in their structures and outcomes. In the San Francisco Bay Area, IZ programs tend to be mandatory and apply broadly across locations and structure types, but attempt to soften potential negative impacts with cost offsets and alternatives to on-site construction. In the Washington DC area, most IZ programs are also mandatory, but have broader exemptions for small developments and low-density housing types. IZ programs in the Suburban Boston area exhibit the most withinregion heterogeneity. In this area, IZ is more likely to be voluntary and to apply only to a narrow range of developments, such as multifamily or age-restricted housing, or within certain zoning districts. The amount of affordable housing produced under IZ varies considerably, both within and across the regions. The flexibility of IZ allows planners to create a program that accommodates local policy goals, housing market conditions and political circumstances.

  • Accessibility of America’s Housing Stock: Analysis of the 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS)

    The American Housing Survey (AHS) is the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States. Since 2009, AHS has included six core disability questions used in the American Community Survey. The questions address hearing, visual, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living difficulties for each household member. For 2011, AHS added a topical module on accessibility. The module asked about the presence of accessibility features in housing units, including wheelchair accessibility features, and whether the accessibility features were used or not. Together, these data provide an unprecedented opportunity to examine the accessibility of the U.S. housing stock and to ask whether people with disabilities reside in accessible homes.

    In this report, the authors present summary measures of housing accessibility based on the 2011 AHS. To develop these summary measures, they examined United States (U.S.) and international standards and regulations regarding housing accessibility, reviewed the relevant literature, and conducted interviews with a set of disability and housing design experts. These interviews are further described in appendix A. Based on these summary measures, the authors describe how accessibility varies by housing market characteristics as well as resident characteristics such as age, disability status, and income. They also present evidence on the relationship between the need for and availability of accessible housing units, taking affordability of accessible units into account.

  • American Murder Mystery Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?

    Critics of Housing Choice Vouchers have alleged that an increased presence of voucher holders leads to increased crime in some neighborhoods. Systematically and empirically studying the question for the first time, this paper finds that while neighborhoods with a higher proportion of voucher holding residents tend to see higher crime rates, there was not a causal relationship. The research reveals that other neighborhood characteristics are much more significant in determining crime. Instead, it appears that voucher holders tend to move in after a neighborhood experiences a rise in crime, suggesting that the intended role of vouchers to enhance holders’ neighborhood choice may be limited.

  • An Economic Analysis of Housing Abandonment

    Landlord abandonment of rental housing has affected many American cities since the 1960’s. Because of data limitations, there have been few empirical analyses of the determinants of housing abandonment. In this paper, we use a rich database that contains information on individual residential properties in New York City to estimate a reduced form model of owner abandonment. We model an owner’s decision to abandon his or her property as being similar to an investor’s decision to exercise a put option on a financial instrument. When required to pay delinquent taxes, a wealth-maximizing landlord has an incentive to cede ownership of his or her residential property when the value of all outstanding liens exceeds the property’s market value. Estimates from the model are used to examine whether empirical evidence supports this option model of abandonment.

  • Blaine’s Wake: School Choice, the First Amendment, and State Constitutional Law

    Focuses on the issue of school choice, while giving an explanation on the awkward position in which the United States federalism has placed on the ideal of religious freedom. Details on the history of the Blaine Amendment; Role of the court in determining the status of school choice in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Vermont; Review of the federal case law related to school choice.

  • 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.

  • Collateral Damage: Refinancing Constraints and Regional Recessions

    In the current structure of the U.S. residential mortgage market, a decrease in property values may make it very difficult for homeowners to refinance their mortgages to take advantage of declining interest rates. In this paper, we show that this form of collateral constraint has greatly reduced refinancing in states with depressed property markets. We outline the interaction between regional recessions and refinancing constraints.

    • Date: September 1997
    • Research Area(s):
    • Publication Type: Articles
    • Publication: Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, 29(4), pp. 496-516
  • Coming to the Nuisance or Going to the Barrios

    The environmental justice movement asserts that low-income and minority neighborhoods are exposed to greater risks from environmental hazards than other neighborhoods because of racism and classism in the siting of locally undesirable land uses (LULUs), the promulgation of environmental and land use regulations, the enforcement of those regulations, and the effort spent on cleaning polluted areas. These claims, and the movement’s demands for a more equitable distribution of environmental “goods”, like clean air, and of environmental “bads”, like waste facilities, are increasingly central to deliberations about environmental and land use policy in the United States. President Clinton signed an Executive Order in February 1994 that requires every federal agency to “make achieving environmental justice part of its mission….” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a national Environmental Justice Office, the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, and environmental justice coordinators within each of its departments and regional offices in order to address environmental justice issues. Environmental impact statements prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 5 (NEPA) now address environmental justice concerns. At least seven states have adopted legislation regarding environmental justice, and many more are now considering such legislation.

    • Date: January 1997
    • Research Area(s):
    • Publication Type: Articles
    • Publication: Ecology Law Quarterly, 24(1), pp. 1-56
  • Comment on ‘Metropolitan Growth, Inequality, and Neighborhood Segregation by Income’

    Over the last three decades, residential segregation by income has become an increasingly important feature of the U.S. metropolitan landscape. From 1970 to 2000, income sorting grew in large cities. In the 1980s almost all American metropolitan areas experienced a rise in segregation of the rich from the poor, though these changes were slightly offset by modest declines in segregation during the 1990s. More than 85 percent of the U.S. metropolitan population lived in an area that was more segregated by income in 2000 than in 1970. The time trend in residential segregation by income hints that income inequality may play an explanatory role.

  • Comment on ‘Are the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Justified?’

    In “Are the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Justified?” the authors conclude that the benefits delivered by the GSEs (as structured prior to conservatorship) are minimal and do not exceed their costs. While many of the arguments made in the article have merit and raise serious questions about the structure of the GSEs prior to 2008, the article overlooks several important benefits and costs. More significantly, no one is arguing for a return of the GSEs as they were structured prior to conservatorship. Rather than debate the merits of a model that has already been rejected by policymakers, we argue that the far more important question is what the housing finance market should look like in the future.