Publications

  • Research Area: Housing Finance ×
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  • The Price of Resilience: Can Multifamily Housing Afford to Adapt?

    This report explores the challenges of retrofitting New York City’s existing multifamily rental buildings to be more resilient to future storms. After summarizing our key findings, we provide background about the current regulatory requirements existing building owners who wish to retrofit must navigate. We then discuss the results of a design workshop the Furman Center convened in January 2014 with the help of our partners at the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) and Enterprise Community Partners.

  • Profile of Rent-Stabilized Units and Tenants in New York City

    In 2011, rent stabilized units comprised nearly one million units of housing in New York City--roughly 45 percent the city's rental housing stock. This report details the socioeconomic and demographic characteristics of the tenants who live in NYC's stabilized housing. It is an update to a 2012 brief, Rent Stabilization in New York City. It has been slightly expanded and re-released to inform the ongoing discussions about rent stabilization in New York City in advance of the June 23, 2014 Rent Guidelines Board vote to set the allowable increase for 2015 lease renewals.

  • Urban Land-Use Regulation: Are Homeowners Overtaking the Growth Machine?

    The leading theory about urban land-use regulation argues that city zoning officials are full partners in the business and real estate elite’s “growth machine.” Suburban land-use officials, in contrast, are thought to cater to the interests of the majority of their electorate— “homevoters.” A unique database regarding over 200,000 lots that the New York City Planning Commission considered for rezoning between 2002 and 2009 allows us to test various hypotheses suggested by these competing theories of land-use regulation. This analysis reveals that homevoters are more powerful in urban politics than scholars, policymakers, and judges have assumed.

  • Mortgage Foreclosures and the Shifting Context of Crime in Micro-Neighborhoods

    In the wake of the housing crisis there is growing concern that increased mortgage foreclosures may lead to physical deterioration of buildings and increased vacancy rates in neighborhoods, undermining neighborhood social controls, and causing increases in local crime. While some recent research suggests that increased mortgage foreclosures in micro-neighborhoods cause modest increases in crime (Ellen, Lacoe, and Sharygin, 2013; Cui, 2010), this paper considers whether foreclosures lead to increased crime on a block, as well as the mechanisms through which foreclosures affect neighborhood crime. To shed light on mechanisms, we investigate whether and how foreclosures shift the location and type of criminal activity by changing the relative attractiveness to potential offenders of one location versus another. For instance, the presence of a vacant, foreclosed building may make it more likely that a drug dealer will sell drugs in a building rather than on the street. As a result, crime occurring inside residences (and in vacant buildings in particular) and on the street may increase by different magnitudes. In addition, we consider whether foreclosures affect resident reports of disorder. Using richly detailed foreclosure, 311, and crime data geo-coded to the blockface (a street segment in-between the two closest cross-streets), we estimate the impact of foreclosures on the location of crime within blockfaces. This research focuses on Chicago, Illinois. Like many areas of the country, housing prices in Chicago reached a peak in 2006, and declined through 2011. In September 2011, 8.7 percent of the mortgages in the Chicago metropolitan area were in foreclosure, giving Chicago the 11th highest foreclosure rate among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country. Recent media reports claim that foreclosed and abandoned buildings in Chicago attract criminal activity including gang activity, drug use, and burglaries, in addition to graffiti, and theft of copper pipes and radiators (Knight and O’Shea, 2011). This study takes an empirical look at how foreclosures have changed patterns of crime in Chicago.

  • Quarterly Housing Update: 3rd Quarter 2013

    Manhattan sales prices reached a new peak for the second consecutive quarter, according to the NYU Furman Center's 2013 Quarterly Housing Update: 3rd Quarter. Brooklyn saw the largest gains in price appreciation over the previous year at 15 percent, while the Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens showed gains over 10 percent. Citywide, new foreclosure filings rose roughly 15 percent since the same quarter last year. 

  • 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. 

  • Maintenance and Investments in Small Rental Properties: Findings from New York City and Baltimore

    Nearly half of all poor, urban renters in the United States live in rental buildings of fewer than four units, and such buildings make up nearly half our nation’s rental housing stock. Yet small rental properties remain largely overlooked by researchers. We present two reports—from New York City and Baltimore—both providing suggestive evidence, drawn from a variety of sources, about the characteristics of small rental housing. We find that while small buildings offer lower rents and play a crucial role in housing low-income renters, these lower rents are largely explained by neighborhood location. Ownership matters, however. In New York, lower rents are associated with small buildings with resident landlords. Further, we also find better unit conditions in small rental buildings when compared to most larger properties, especially in small buildings with resident landlords. In Baltimore, we find that smaller-scale “mom-and-pop” owners dominate the small rental property market, but that the share of larger-scale owners increases in higher poverty areas of the city. The properties owned by these larger-scale owners receive fewer housing code violations and that these owners appear to invest more frequently in major improvements to their properties.

  • Quarterly Housing Update: 2nd Quarter 2013

    Manhattan sales prices have surpassed their pre-recession peak, according to the Furman Center’s New York City 2013 Quarterly Housing Update: 2nd Quarter. But, despite the rise in residential sales prices and volume, foreclosure filings across New York City have continued to grow. 

  • NYC Housing 10 Issues Series #5: Moderate-Income Household Subsidy

    Housing is a substantial expense for New Yorkers, and has grown even less affordable in the last decade. As housing affordability becomes more of a strain for moderate- and middle-income households, many worry that those households might choose to leave the city altogether, which could undermine the city’s diversity and vitality. Moderate- and middle-income households are often not served by existing rental subsidies, though they may benefit from such a program. This brief examines the feasibility of a moderate-income housing subsidy.

    The #NYChousing series, published in 2013 prior to the New York City mayoral election, identified 10 key affordable housing issues that were likely to confront the next mayor of New York City. The series aimed to inform the public about the policy tradeoffs by providing an objective analysis of the pros, cons, and questions related to key housing issues facing New York City. How the incoming New York City mayor would choose address the city's housing challenges in an environment of increasing needs, declining federal support, and a strengthening real estate market would have an enormous effect on the livability, diversity, and character of the city.

  • NYC Housing 10 Issues Series #4: City Pension Funds

    In the 2013 NYC mayoral election, some candidates suggested tapping the city pension funds as a way to maintain or increase the funding available to create and preserve affordable housing. The pension funds of New York City have some $137 billion in assets and might appear to be a valuable source of capital. However, the law limits the potential uses of these funds and restricts the mayor’s ability to control their use. This brief outlines the tradeoffs of using city pension funds as a potential source of capital to fund affordable housing efforts, as well as the severe limits on their use and the mayor's control of that money. 

    The #NYChousing series, published in 2013 prior to the New York City mayoral election, identified 10 key affordable housing issues that were likely to confront the next mayor of New York City. The series aimed to inform the public about the policy tradeoffs by providing an objective analysis of the pros, cons, and questions related to key housing issues facing New York City. How the incoming New York City mayor would choose address the city's housing challenges in an environment of increasing needs, declining federal support, and a strengthening real estate market would have an enormous effect on the livability, diversity, and character of the city.