Publications

  • Research Area: Neighborhood Conditions ×
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  • 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.

  • Housing, Neighborhoods, and Children’s Health

    In theory, improving low-income families’ housing and neighborhoods could also improve their children’s health, through any number of mechanisms. For example, less exposure to environmental toxins could prevent diseases such as asthma; a safer, less violent neighborhood could improve health by reducing the chances of injury and death, and by easing the burden of stress; and a more walkable neighborhood with better playgrounds could encourage children to exercise, making them less likely to become obese. Yet although neighborhood improvement policies generally achieve their immediate goals— investments in playgrounds create playgrounds, for example—Ingrid Gould Ellen and Sherry Glied find that many of these policies don’t show a strong effect on poor children’s health. One problem is that neighborhood improvements may price low-income families out of the very neighborhoods that have been improved, as new amenities draw more affluent families, causing rents and home prices to rise. Policy makers, say Ellen and Glied, should carefully consider how neighborhood improvements may affect affordability, a calculus that is likely to favor policies with clear and substantial benefits for low-income children, such as those that reduce neighborhood violence. Housing subsidies can help families either cope with rising costs or move to more affluent neighborhoods. Unfortunately, demonstration programs that help families move to better neighborhoods have had only limited effects on children’s health, possibly because such transitions can be stressful. And because subsidies go to relatively few low-income families, the presence of subsidies may itself drive up housing costs, placing an extra burden on the majority of families that don’t receive them. Ellen and Glied suggest that policy makers consider whether granting smaller subsidies to more families would be a more effective way to use these funds.

  • 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.

  • Race and Neighborhoods in the 21st Century: What Does Segregation Mean Today?

    Recent research has argued that racial segregation is no longer a concern in the 21st century. In response, this paper revisits these concerns about racial segregation and neighborhoods to assess their relevance today. This working paper finds that while segregation levels between blacks and whites have certainly declined, they remain quite high; Hispanic and Asian segregation have, meanwhile, remained unchanged. Further, this paper shows that the neighborhood environments of minorities continue to be highly unequal to those enjoyed by whites. Blacks and Hispanics continue to live among more disadvantaged neighbors, to have access to lower performing schools, and to be exposed to more violent crime. Further, these differences are amplified in more segregated metropolitan areas. See the Research Brief: Race and Neighborhoods in the 21st Century.

  • Race and Neighborhoods in the 21st Century

    This research brief explores the state of racial segregation in American neighborhoods, and the connection between segregation and gaps in neighborhood conditions. Based on a working paper that analyzed U.S. segregation patterns between the years 1980 and 2010, the research finds that minority groups and whites continue to live in separate and highly unequal neighborhoods. Black and Hispanic households tend to live in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates, fewer college-educated neighbors, lower-performing schools, and higher violent crime rates. Moreover, these differences in neighborhood conditions are amplified in more segregated metropolitan areas. View the working paper, press release, and other resources here.