Publications

  • The Effects of Inclusionary Zoning on Local Housing Markets

    Many local governments in metropolitan areas with high housing costs are adopting inclusionary zoning (IZ) as a means of producing housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income households without direct public subsidies. Critics charge that IZ ordinances impose additional costs on new development and may lead to reductions in supply and increases in the price of market rate housing. Advocates of IZ argue that any negative effects IZ might have on production can be mitigated through density bonuses or other cost offsets. Rigorous empirical study of the effects of inclusionary zoning ordinances has been hampered by the lack of accurate, timely data describing IZ and the land use regulatory schemes in which IZ programs fit. In this paper, we use panel data on the adoption and characteristics of IZ in the San Francisco and Washington DC metropolitan areas and the Boston-area suburbs to analyze which jurisdictions adopt IZ, how much affordable housing the programs produce and the effects of IZ on the prices and production of market-rate housing. The IZ programs among our sample jurisdictions are complex policies and exhibit considerable variation in their design, particularly across the three regions. We find that larger, more highly educated jurisdictions and those surrounded by more neighbors with IZ are more likely to adopt IZ. Whether and how many affordable units are produced under IZ depends primarily on the length of time IZ has been in place. The results from Boston-area suburbs provide some evidence that IZ has contributed to increased housing prices and lower rates of housing production. There is no evidence that IZ has constrained supply or increased prices among Bay Area jurisdictions. Limitations on the availability and quality of our data suggest that our results should be interpreted cautiously, but also suggest that IZ programs should be designed cautiously to mitigate possible negative impacts on housing supply.

  • The Impact of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Housing on Surrounding Neighborhoods: Evidence from NYC

    In this report, we examine the neighborhood impact of low income housing tax credit developments in New York City, where 42,077 units of LIHTC housing were newly constructed or rehabilitated between 1987 and 2003.

  • The Impact of Subsidized Housing Investment on New York City’s Neighborhoods

    The contemporary assumption is that the production of subsidized housing, if anything, accelerates neighborhood decline – “there goes the neighborhood” is the common refrain.  Partially as a result, we’ve seen the policy pendulum swing away from place-based housing investment towards demand-side housing programs, such as housing vouchers. Through multiple studies, the Furman Center has consistently found significant, positive impacts from subsidized housing investment, suggesting that publicly-funded housing investments aimed at distressed urban properties can deliver significant benefits to the surrounding community.

  • Housing Policy in New York City: A Brief History

    Published in April 2006, this paper tells the story of housing policy in New York City over the past 30 years. The report describes the city’s unprecedented efforts to rebuild its housing stock during the late 1980s and 1990s and analyzes the specific features of the New York City’s 10-year plan that made these efforts so successful. In addition, the report describes New York City’s current housing environment and policy challenges.

  • Removing Regulatory Barriers: One City’s Experience

    The difficulty of developing housing in New York City is as legendary as its cost. The city has had a vacancy rate under 5% — the legislative threshold defining a housing “emergency”—for more than 55 years. More than one commission or blue ribbon panel has identified government regulation as one of the primary causes of the housing problem. Since 2000, however, an opportunity presented itself to finally make some progress in reducing the cost of housing construction. Removing regulatory barriers to housing development caught the interest of two mayors—Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg—and their respective housing commissioners.

  • 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.

  • Differences in Neighborhood Conditions Among Immigrants and Native-Born Children in New York City

    In this paper we use a specially created data set for New York City to evaluate whether the context of children’s neighborhoods varies by their immigrant status, and, if so, whether the relationship between neighborhood context and immigrant status varies by children’s race and ethnicity. Overall, when compared to native-born children, immigrant children live in neighborhoods with higher rates of teenage fertility, and higher percentages of students in local schools scoring below grade level in math and of persons receiving AFDC, but lower rates of juvenile detention. However, further comparisons revealed that race/ethnicity is by far a more potent predictor of where children live than is immigrant status per se. Specifically, we find evidence of a hierarchy of access to advantageous neighborhoods, whereby native- and foreign-born white children have access to the most-advantaged neighborhoods while native-born black children consistently live in the least-advantaged neighborhoods, as measured by our four indicators. In between these extremes, the relative ranking of foreign-born black and native- and foreign-born Hispanic children varies, depending on the measure of the neighborhood context.