• Valuing Urban Land: Comparing the use of Teardown and Vacant Land Sales

    This study explores the use of “teardown” sales to estimate the value of urban land. When a buyer purchases a property intending to tear down the existing structure and rebuild, the value of land can potentially be estimated as the purchase price plus demolition costs. There has been little exploration of teardown sales in cities around the country, or any explicit comparisons between the estimates of land values derived from teardown sales and those derived through vacant land sales. This paper undertakes just such an explicit comparison, analyzing approximately 3800 teardown sales and 4900 vacant land sales occurring in New York City between 2003 and 2009. The two approaches yield surprisingly similar estimates of the value of both parcel attributes and locational amenities. However, vacant parcels are disproportionately located in very distressed neighborhoods and tend to be valued less highly than teardown parcels, even in the same neighborhood. Teardown parcels appear to be more representative of the city as a whole and may be a more useful approach to developing estimates of land prices, at least in the central cities of large urban areas where sample sizes are large enough.

  • Race and the City

    This paper provides the introduction to the special issue on Race and the City in the Journal of Housing Economics in 2018. The paper surveys relevant topics on racial and ethnic discrimination and residential segregation, and provides a more detailed discussion of the specific papers in the special issue. The paper primarily focuses on the literatures on discrimination in housing, on-line markets and policing. In terms of racial segregation, the paper discusses work related to the pattern of residential segregation and the causes and consequences of segregation

  • The Potential Costs to Public Engagement of HUD’s Assessment of Fair Housing Delay

    In January 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it would extend the deadlines by which local governments and public housing authorities receiving federal housing and urban development funds must submit Assessments of Fair Housing (AFHs), and allow jurisdictions to continue to file Analysis of Impediments (AIs) instead. HUD justified the delay by noting that of the first 49 AFH initial submissions, HUD initially did not accept 35% of the submissions. Many observers, however, believed that the initial submissions were superior to the AIs they replaced. To evaluate one important aspect of the AFH and AI processes, the NYU Furman Center compared the public engagement involved in the AIs and AFHs filed by 19 of the 28 jurisdictions who were first to file under the new AFH requirements. The authors find that the public engagement processes used under the AFH requirement were much more robust than the most recent AIs the jurisdictions had filed along five distinct dimensions: the number of opportunities for public engagement; the inclusiveness of those opportunities; the provision of data for assessing public engagement; documentation and consideration of the public input; and existence of cross-jurisdictional or cross-sector engagement.

  • Airbnb Usage Across New York City Neighborhoods: Geographic Patterns and Regulatory Implications

    This paper offers new empirical evidence about actual Airbnb usage patterns and how they vary across neighborhoods in New York City. We combine unique, census-tract level data from Airbnb with neighborhood asking rent data from Zillow and administrative, census, and social media data on neighborhoods. We find that as usage has grown over time, Airbnb listings have become more geographically dispersed, although centrality remains an important predictor of listing location. Neighborhoods with more modest median household incomes have also grown in popularity, and disproportionately feature “private room” listings (compared to “entire home” listings). We find that compared to long-term rentals, short-term rentals do not appear to be as profitable as many assume, and they have become relatively less profitable over our time period. Additionally, short-term rentals appear most profitable relative to long-term rentals in outlying, middle-income neighborhoods. Our findings contribute to an ongoing regulatory conversation catalyzed by the rapid growth in the short-term rental market, and we conclude by bringing an economic lens to varying approaches proposed to target and address externalities that may arise in this market. 

  • What Do We Know About Housing Choice Vouchers?

    Four decades after its creation, the Housing Choice Voucher Program is the largest low-income housing subsidy program managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This literature review covers what we know and don’t know about the Housing Choice Voucher Program. 

    Research shows that vouchers reduce the rent burdens of low-income households, allow them to live in less crowded homes, and help them to avoid homelessness. The program has been less successful, however, in getting recipients to better neighborhoods and schools, and perhaps the greatest disappointment of the program is its limited reach. Families wait for years in most places to receive a voucher, and only one in four households eligible for a voucher nationally receives any federal housing assistance. Further, a significant minority of households who receive vouchers never use them, in part because of the difficulty of finding willing landlords with acceptable units. Thus, as effective as the program is, there is still much to learn about its operation and how we might improve it.

  • Gentrification Responses: A Survey of Strategies to Maintain Neighborhood Economic Diversity

    This report examines strategies used by local governments to address rising housing costs and displacement of low-income households in gentrifying neighborhoods. To assist tenants at risk of displacement, the report details strategies to regulate the landlord/tenant relationship well as strategies to provide assistance for households that move. To create and preserve affordable housing, the report explores ways to use city-owned land and other resources strategically to promote affordable housing in areas where costs are on the rise. It also examines ways to harness the market, such as inclusionary zoning and linkage fees. The report is part of an ongoing series of work by the NYU Furman Center on gentrification, but is the first to provide an overview of policy responses to the effects rapidly rising rents.

  • Has Falling Crime Invited Gentrification?

    Over the past two decades, crime has fallen dramatically in U.S. cities. This white paper explores whether, in the face of falling central city crime rates, households with more resources and options were more likely to move into central cities overall and, more particularly, into low-income and/or majority minority central city neighborhoods. 

    This study finds that declines in city crime are associated with increases in the probability that high-income and college-educated households choose to move into central city neighborhoods, including low-income and majority minority central city neighborhoods. It also finds little evidence that households with lower incomes and without college degrees are more likely to move to cities when violent crime falls. These results hold during the 1990s as well as the 2000s and for the 100 largest metropolitan areas, where crime declines were greatest. There is weaker evidence that white households are disproportionately drawn to cities as crime falls in the 100 largest metropolitan areas from 2000 to 2010.

  • Why Don’t Housing Voucher Recipients Live Near Better Schools? Insights from Big Data

    This paper by Ingrid Gould Ellen, Keren Mertens Horn, and Amy Ellen Schwartz, published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, uses administrative data to explore why voucher households do not live near to better schools, as measured by school-level proficiency rates. It seeks to shed light on whether voucher households are more likely to move toward better schools when schools are most relevant, and how market conditions shape that response. The authors find that families with vouchers are more likely to move toward a better school in the year before their oldest child meets the eligibility cutoff for kindergarten. Further, the magnitude of the effect is larger in metropolitan areas with a relatively high share of affordable rental units located near high-performing schools and in neighborhoods in close proximity to higher-performing schools. Results suggest that, if given the appropriate information and opportunities, more voucher families would move to better schools when their children reach school age.

  • Black and Latino Segregation and Socioeconomic Outcomes

    Latinos seem to be inheriting the segregated urban structures experienced by African Americans and, to a similar extent, the diminished social and economic outcomes associated with segregation. This brief examines the relationships between metropolitan segregation levels and socioeconomic outcomes for Latinos and African Americans and explores mechanisms to explain these relationships. It finds that In more segregated metropolitan areas, both native-born Latinos and African Americans are significantly less likely compared with whites to graduate from high school and college, are more likely than whites to be neither working nor in school. Additionally, higher levels of segregation are associated with dramatic reductions in earnings for both African Americans and Latinos relative to whites. The research brief summarizes the findings of the article, Desvinculado y Desigual: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos? (PDF), which was published in the July 2015 edition of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. See the press release or read the key findings

  • Desvinculado y Desigual: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos?

    Despite the high levels of metropolitan area segregation experienced by Latinos, there is a lack of research examining the effects of segregation on Latino socio-economic outcomes and whether those effects differ from the negative effects documented for African Americans. The authors find that segregation is consistently associated with lower levels of educational attainment and labor market success for both African-American and Latino young adults compared to whites, with associations of similar magnitudes for both groups. One mechanism through which segregation may influence outcomes is the difference in the levels of neighborhood human capital to which whites, Latinos, and African Americans are exposed. The authors find that higher levels of segregation are associated with lower black and Latino neighborhood exposure to residents with college degrees, relative to whites. They also find support for other commonly-discussed mechanisms, such as exposure to neighborhood violent crime and the relative proficiency of the closest public school.