Publications

  • Research Area: Neighborhood Conditions ×
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  • Nonprofit Housing and Neighborhood Spillovers

    Nonprofit organizations play a critical role in U.S. housing policy, a role typically justified by the claim that their housing investments produce significant neighborhood spillover benefits. However, little work has actually been done to measure these impacts on neighborhoods. This paper compares the neighborhood spillover effects of city-supported rehabilitation of rental housing undertaken by nonprofit and for-profit developers, using data from New York City. To measure these benefits, we use increases in neighboring property values, estimated from a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model. We study the impacts of about 43,000 units of city-supported housing completed during the 1980s and 1990s, and our sample of property transactions includes nearly 300,000 individual sales.

  • School Finance Court Cases and Disparate Racial Impact

    Although analyses of state school finance systems rarely focus on the distribution of funds to students of different races, the advent of racial discrimination as an issue in school finance court cases may change that situation. In this article, we describe the background, analyses, and results of plaintiffs’ testimony regarding racial discrimination in Campaign for Fiscal Equity Inc. v. State of New York. Plaintiffs employed multiple regression and public finance literature to show that New York State’s school finance system had a disparate racial impact on New York City students. We review the legal basis for disparate racial impact claims, with particular emphasis on the role of quantitative statistical work, and then describe the model we developed and estimated for the court case. Finally, we discuss the defendants’rebuttal, the Court’s decision, and conclude with observations about the role of analysis in judicial decision making in school finance.

  • Immigrants and the Distribution of Resources within an Urban School District

    In New York City, where almost 14% of elementary school pupils are foreign-born and roughly half of these are “recent immigrants,” the impact of immigrant students on school resources may be important. While immigrant advocates worry about inequitable treatment of immigrant students, others worry that immigrants drain resources from native-born students. In this article, we explore the variation in school resources and the relationship to the representation of immigrant students. To what extent are variations in school resources explained by the presence of immigrants per se rather than by differences in student educational needs, such as poverty or language skills, or differences in other characteristics, such as race?

  • The Role of Cities in Providing Housing Assistance: A New York Perspective

    In recent years, the federal government has increasingly relied upon states and cities to create and administer social policy. This paper examines available theory and evidence regarding the appropriate role of different levels of government, focusing in particular on the role of cities. Exploring the case of New York City, the paper also offers new empirical evidence on the extent to which investments in affordable housing can help to eliminate externalities and rebuild inner city communities. The authors conclude that although cities should play a major role in administering housing programs, they should only fund them under a limited set of circumstances. Redistribution of income, a major objective of most housing subsidy programs, should generally be paid for by the federal government, not cities. In contrast, cities should consider funding housing production programs when they are part of a comprehensive strategy either to remove negative externalities or to generate positive spillovers. The authors' empirical analysis of New York City's investment in new housing suggests that housing programs can generate significant external benefits to their neighborhoods. Thus, the results point to a potentially important role for cities, based upon the spillover effects of housing construction and rehabilitation in distressed neighborhoods.

  • Do Neighborhoods Matter and Why?

    “Choosing a Better Life?” is the first distillation of years of research on the MTO project, the largest rigorously designed social experiment to investigate the consequences of moving low-income public housing residents to low-poverty neighborhoods. In this book, leading social scientists and policy experts examine the legislative and political foundations of the project, analyze the effects of MTO on lives of the families involved, and explore lessons learned from this important piece of U.S. social policy.

  • Housing Production Subsidies and Neighborhood Revitalization: New York City’s Ten Year Capital

    A perennial question in housing policy concerns the form that housing assistance should take. Although some argue that housing assistance should be thought of as a form of income support and advocate direct cash grants to needy households, others favor earmarked assistance—but they differ over whether subsidies should be given to the recipients as vouchers or to developers as production subsidies.

  • What Have We Learned from HUD’s Moving to Opportunity Program?

    “Choosing a Better Life?” is the first distillation of years of research on the MTO project, the largest rigorously designed social experiment to investigate the consequences of moving low-income public housing residents to low-poverty neighborhoods. In this book, leading social scientists and policy experts examine the legislative and political foundations of the project, analyze the effects of MTO on lives of the families involved, and explore lessons learned from this important piece of U.S. social policy.

  • Has Falling Crime Driven New York City’s Real Estate Boom?

    We investigate whether falling crime has driven New York City’s post-1994 real estate boom, as media reports suggest. We address this by decomposing trends in the city’s property value from 1988 to 1998 into components due to crime, the city’s investment in subsidized low-income housing, the quality of public schools, and other factors. We use rich data and employ both hedonic and repeat-sales house price models, which allow us to control for unobservable neighborhood and building-specific effects. We find that the popular story touting the overwhelming importance of crime rates has some truth to it. Falling crime rates are responsible for about a third of the post-1994 boom in property values. However, this story is incomplete because it ignores the revitalization of New York City’s poorer communities and the large role that housing subsidies played in mitigating the earlier bust.

  • Revitalizing Inner City Neighborhoods: New York City’s Ten Year Plan For Housing

    This article examines the impact of Mayor Koch’s $5.1 billion, 10-year plan for housing on the sale prices of homes in surrounding neighborhoods. The paper finds that properties in the immediate vicinity of homes newly built or renovated through the 10-year plan rose in value relative to comparable properties further away, suggesting the housing investments helped to spur revitalization in the distressed neighborhoods targeted.

  • Telecommuting and the Demand for Urban Living: A Preliminary Look at White-Collar Workers

    With recent advances in communications technology, telecommuting appears to be an increasingly viable option for many workers. For urban researchers, the key question is whether this growing ability to telecommute is altering residential location decisions and leading households to live in smaller, lower-density and more remote locations. Using the Work Schedules supplement from the 1997 Current Population Study, this paper explores this question. Specifically, it examines the prevalence of telecommuting, explores the relationship between telecommuting and the residential choices of white-collar workers and, finally, speculates about future impacts on residential patterns and urban form.