Publications

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 21st Century SROs: Can Small Housing Units Help Meet the Need for Affordable Housing in New York City?

    This brief explores the potential demand for smaller, cheaper units to help address New York City’s affordable housing need. It considers the feasibility of self-contained micro units as well as efficiency units with shared kitchens and/or baths. The report considers the economics of building and operating small units and models their financial feasibility. It concludes by analyzing the main barriers to the creation of small units that exist in New York City and suggesting possible reforms that New York City can make to address these barriers.

  • 21st Century SROs: Can Small Housing Units Help Meet the Need for Affordable Housing in New York City?

    Single-room occupancy housing (SROs) used to be a readily available affordable housing type in New York City. During the second half of the 20th century, many SROs came to serve as housing of last resort, and mounting criticism of SROs led to laws banning their construction and discouraging their operation. Today, New York City faces a significant housing affordability crisis. In this context, it is worth considering whether the city needs an updated housing model that helps meet the need SROs filled in the last century. Here we analyze the benefits, risks, and challenges of reintroducing small housing units (self-contained micro units and efficiency units with shared facilities) in order to shed light on whether and how a new small-unit model could help meet the demand for affordable housing in the city today.

  • How Do Small Area FMRs Affect the Location and Number of Units Affordable to Voucher Holders?

    This brief explores how the location and number of homes affordable to voucher holders will change in the 24 metro areas mandated by HUD to adopt Small Area Fair Market Rents (“Small Area FMRs”). The change to Small Area FMR—a more localized rent measures as a determinant of subsidy standards—is designed to allow housing choice voucher holders to rent homes in a wider variety of areas. The analysis finds that switching to Small Area FMRs would open up options for voucher holders in high-rent ZIP Codes while reducing them in low-rent ZIP Codes. In addition, the aggregate number of units affordable to voucher holders in these 24 metros would increase with the use of Small Area FMRs.  

  • Population and Housing in the Floodplain Battered by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

    In conjunction with the launch of FloodzoneData.us, the NYU Furman Center released a series of data briefs to illustrate the housing and population located in the U.S. floodplains. The third brief in the series, Population and Housing in the Floodplain Battered by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, describes the housing and population located in the floodplains of metropolitan areas affected by hurricanes in recent months, including Houston, Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville. The analysis describes the housing stock (including tenure, size, and number of subsidized housing units) and population demographics (including poverty rates, households with children and seniors, and race/ethnicity) in floodplains within these metro areas. 

  • Population in the U.S. Floodplains

    In conjunction with the launch of FloodzoneData.us, the NYU Furman Center released a series of data briefs to illustrate the housing and population located in the U.S. floodplains. The second brief in the series, Population in the U.S. Floodplains, explores the characteristics of the population located in the 100-year floodplain and the combined floodplain (100-year and 500-year floodplain), nationwide. In 2015, more than 30 million people (10% of the U.S. population) lived in the combined floodplain.