Publications

  • Housing and Educational Opportunity: Characteristics of Local Schools Near Families with Federal Housing Assistance

    This report focuses on access to neighborhood elementary schools, highlighting disparities between families living in subsidized housing and those who do not. It describes the characteristics of the local public elementary schools to which children living in subsidized housing have access, including their student demographics, teacher characteristics and relative proficiency rates. The report shows that that families receiving all four major types of federal housing assistance lived near lower performing and higher poverty schools than other poor families with children as well as other renters with children.

  • Points for Place: Can State Governments Shape Siting Patterns of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Developments?

    There is considerable controversy about the allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Some charge that credits are disproportionately allocated to developments in poor, minority neighborhoods without additional investments and thereby reinforcing patterns of poverty concentration and racial segregation. We examine whether Qualified Allocation Plans, which outline the selection criteria states use when awarding credits, can serve as an effective tool for directing credits to higher opportunity neighborhoods (or neighborhoods that offer a rich set of resources, such as high-performing schools and access to jobs) for states wishing to do so. To answer this question, we study changes in the location criteria outlined in allocation plans for 20 different states across the country between 2002 and 2010, and observe the degree to which those modifications are associated with changes in the poverty rates and racial composition of the neighborhoods where developments awarded tax credits are located. We find evidence that changes to allocation plans that prioritize higher opportunity neighborhoods are associated with increases in the share of credits allocated to housing units in lower poverty neighborhoods and reductions in the share allocated to those in predominantly minority neighborhoods. This analysis provides the first source of empirical evidence that state allocation plans can shape LIHTC siting patterns.

  • 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.

  • Katherine M. O’Regan Testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Hearing on Affordable Housing

    On Tuesday, August 1, 2017, Dr. Katherine O’Regan, faculty of NYU Wagner and Faculty Director at the NYU Furman Center, testified at the United State Senate Committee on Finance’s hearing entitled, “America’s Affordable Housing Crisis: Challenges and Solutions.” Dr. O’Regan’s statement outlines the extent of the nation’s affordable housing crisis and its consequences for households and markets. In discussing the federal government’s role in responding to the crisis, she discusses three proposed reforms to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to “increase its flexibility and feasibility in a broader set of market conditions, to streamline, and to more effectively meet key policy goals.” Read Dr. O'Regan's full statement or watch a video of the hearing.

  • The Effects of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)

    The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program is the largest federal subsidy for the development and preservation of affordable housing. Since it was established by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, LIHTC has financed the development and preservation of more than 2.1 million units in over 28,000 developments across the country. As federal tax reform looms, however, there is growing uncertainty surrounding the future of LIHTC. In contemplation of debate about these possible changes, this brief explores what we know about who LIHTC serves and what research has shown about the impact of the program.

  • Utility Allowances in Federally Subsidized Multifamily Housing

    This paper provides an analysis of the statutes, regulations, and guidance that govern the treatment of utility costs in the four largest federal subsidized housing programs—Public Housing, Project-Based Section 8, Housing Choice Vouchers, and Low-Income Housing Tax Credits—and the incentives these rules create for the consumption of utilities. It finds that many of these programs are structured such that tenants and owners are either indifferent about utility costs or are rewarded for overconsumption. This paper makes several recommendation for how these programs can be restructured to incentivize lower utility consumption, which can reduce the environmental footprint of subsidized housing, improve the financial viability of existing subsidized properties, and free resources that can be repurposed for other HUD goals.

  • Effect of QAP Incentives on the Location of LIHTC Properties

    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.

  • Low-Income Housing Policy

    The United States government devotes about $40 billion each year to means-tested housing programs, plus another $6 billion or so in tax expenditures on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). What exactly do we spend this money on, why, and what does it accomplish? The authors focus on these questions. They begin by reviewing the history of low-income housing programs in the U.S., and then summarize the characteristics of participants in means-tested housing programs and how programs have changed over time. The authors consider important conceptual issues surrounding the design of and rationale for means-tested housing programs in the U.S. and review existing empirical evidence, which is limited in important ways. Finally, we conclude with thoughts about the most pressing questions that might be addressed in future research in this area.

  • Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Overhauling the CRA

    The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is in need of a major overhaul. Since the CRA was enacted in 1977, and since the last major rewrite of the regulations more than 15 years ago, much about the financial services industry has changed. This chapter discusses why the regulatory system needs to be redesigned to allow for more regular and timely updates, allowing more rapid  responses to what is working and what is not. By being more amenable to continuous improvement, the CRA should be more open to innovation and experimentation given the greater opportunity for making midterm corrections. This chapter starts with a brief overview of the CRA and its successes. It then outlines some ways to facilitate more regular updating of the CRA regulations, followed by a review of a number of ways to increase the effectiveness of CRA in helping to stabilize and revitalize low-and moderate-income (LMI) communities. 

  • Investigating the Relationship Between Housing Voucher Use and Crime

    This policy brief debunks the long-held myth that the influx of households with vouchers causes crime in a neighborhood to increase. Rather, the report finds that housing voucher recipients tend to move into neighborhoods with high existing levels of crime. These findings should reassure communities worried about entry of voucher holders, but also raise questions about whether the Housing Choice Voucher program is reaching its stated goal of helping recipients reach “better” neighborhoods.