Publications

  • Foreclosed Properties in NYC: A Look at the Last 15 Years

    In 2009, New York City saw a record number of foreclosure filings, passing 20,000 for the first time since we started tracking foreclosures in early 1990s.  Yet little is known about what happens to these properties after they receive a foreclosure notice.  This report analyzes the outcomes of 1-4 family properties that entered foreclosure in New York City between 1993 and 2007, paying particular attention to trends in recent years.  The report identifies a current inventory of 1,750 bank-owned (termed Real Estate Owned or “REO” by lenders) properties citywide—up dramatically from about 290 at the end of 2006. While the overall number of REO properties in New York remains small compared to harder hit cities, the report finds that these properties are highly concentrated in Eastern Queens, Central Brooklyn, and the North Shore of Staten Island—not surprisingly, the same neighborhoods that have been hardest hit by the mortgage crisis.

  • Foreclosure and Kids: Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School?

    The second in a two-part series on the effects of the foreclosure crisis on children, this report addresses the relationship between foreclosure and student mobility. New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) and Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy find that New York City public school students living in buildings entering foreclosure are more likely to switch schools than their peers, less likely to leave the school system, and that their new schools tend to be lower performing than the ones they left.

  • 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.

  • Gentrification and Fair Housing: Does Gentrification Further Integration?

    This paper explores the long-term trajectory of predominantly minority, low-income neighborhoods that gentrified over the 1980s and 1990s. On average, these neighborhoods experienced little racial change while they gentrified, but a significant minority became racially integrated during the decade of gentrification, and over the longer term, many of these neighborhoods remained racially stable. That said, some gentrifying neighborhoods that were predominantly minority in 1980 appeared to be on the path to becoming predominantly white. Policies, such as investments in place-based, subsidized housing, are needed in many gentrifying neighborhoods to ensure racial and economic diversity over the longer term.

  • 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.

  • Gentrification: Perspectives of Economists and Planners

    Gentrification touches on issues at the core of the fields of urban economics, planning, and geography. This article aims to look across disciplines and review the literature on gentrification. It begins by discussing how gentrification is defined and understood by different researchers and assessing its importance or prevalence over time. It then contrasts the theoretical approaches used to explain the causes of gentrification in different fields. It focuses on different models used by economists on the one hand and planners, on the other. The economic models of neighborhood change focus more on market forces and individual choices, while planning and geography models emphasize class and politics. Following this, the article reviews the literature on the consequences of gentrification, summarizing the empirical evidence. Finally, it highlights what is still unknown about gentrification, in terms of the process and drivers, its consequences, and the role it might play in future urban revitalization.

  • 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. 

  • Government Policies and Household Size:  Evidence from New York

    What determines how many adults live in a house? How do people divide themselves up among households? Average household sizes vary substantially, both over time and in the cross-section. In this paper, we describe how a variety of government policies affect living arrangements, intentionally or not. Using data from a survey of households in New York City, we find that these incentives appear to have an impact. Specifically, households receiving these housing and income subsidies are smaller on average (measured by number of adults). The impacts appear to be considerably larger than those that would occur if the programs were lump-sum transfers. Small average household size can be extremely expensive in terms of physical and environmental resources, higher rents, and possibly homelessness. Thus, we encourage policymakers to pay greater heed to the provisions built into various social policies that favor smaller households.

  • 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.

  • 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.