Do Federally Assisted Households Have Access to High Performing Schools?
This study describes the elementary schools closest to families receiving four different forms of housing assistance, and finds that families in Project-based Section 8 developments and Public Housing and recipients of Housing Choice Vouchers tend to live near schools with lower test scores than the schools near the typical poor household. Only families in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) housing have access to schools that are slightly better than the schools available to other poor families. The report also finds that, despite the flexibility provided by vouchers, families with Housing Choice Vouchers, on average, live near lower performing schools than families in Project-based Section 8 or LIHTC developments. The report provides results for the 100 largest metropolitan areas, which show that assisted households tend to live near relatively higher performing schools in metropolitan areas with certain characteristics, including smaller size and less racial segregation. The analysis relies on a variety of different large data sources that have been brought together for the first time, including a national file of subsidized housing tenants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD’s publicly available LIHTC dataset, and data from the U.S. Department of Education on proficiency rates in math and English and additional school characteristics. In addition to the report below, the complete findings may be found in Appendix A (state-by-state tables), Appendix B (metropolitan area tables), Appendix C (national distributions of family units by school performance), and Appendix D (top 100 MSAs – percentile rankings for each housing program).
Do Foreclosures Cause Crime?
The mortgage foreclosure crisis has generated increasing concerns about the effects of foreclosed properties on their surrounding neighborhoods, and on criminal activity in particular. Using a unique dataset of point-specific longitudinal crime and foreclosure data from New York City, this paper explores whether foreclosed properties affect criminal activity on the surrounding blockface – an individual street segment including properties on both sides of the street. The researchers report that foreclosures on a blockface lead to additional violent crimes and public order crimes, and these effects are largest when foreclosure activity is measured by the number of bank-owned properties on a blockface.
American Murder Mystery Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?
Critics of Housing Choice Vouchers have alleged that an increased presence of voucher holders leads to increased crime in some neighborhoods. Systematically and empirically studying the question for the first time, this paper finds that while neighborhoods with a higher proportion of voucher holding residents tend to see higher crime rates, there was not a causal relationship. The research reveals that other neighborhood characteristics are much more significant in determining crime. Instead, it appears that voucher holders tend to move in after a neighborhood experiences a rise in crime, suggesting that the intended role of vouchers to enhance holders’ neighborhood choice may be limited.
Crime and Community Development
Community development has traditionally focused on investments in housing, commercial revitalization, and physical improvements. Although all three are clearly critical to communities, the field has largely ignored (or paid too little attention to) one of the key factors that shape the quality of the everyday life: public safety.
Comment on ‘Are the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Justified?’
In “Are the Government-Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Justified?” the authors conclude that the benefits delivered by the GSEs (as structured prior to conservatorship) are minimal and do not exceed their costs. While many of the arguments made in the article have merit and raise serious questions about the structure of the GSEs prior to 2008, the article overlooks several important benefits and costs. More significantly, no one is arguing for a return of the GSEs as they were structured prior to conservatorship. Rather than debate the merits of a model that has already been rejected by policymakers, we argue that the far more important question is what the housing finance market should look like in the future.
Household Energy Bills and Subsidized Housing
Household energy consumption is crucial to national energy policy. This article analyzes how the rules covering utility costs in the four major federal housing assistance programs alter landlord and tenant incentives for energy efficiency investment and conservation. We conclude that, relative to market-rate housing, assistance programs provide less incentive to landlords and tenants for energy efficiency investment and conservation, and utilities are more likely to be included in the rent. Using data from the American Housing Survey, we examine the differences in utility billing arrangements between assisted and unassisted low-income renters and find that—even when controlling for observable building and tenant differences—the rent that assisted tenants pay is more likely to include utilities. Among all tenants who pay utility bills separately from rent, observable
differences in energy expenses for assisted and unassisted tenants are driven by unit, building, and household characteristics rather than the receipt of government assistance.
The Importance of Using Layered Data to Analyze Housing: The Case of the Subsidized Housing Information Project
The Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy recently developed a new database through its Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP). The SHIP database combines more than 50 disparate data sets to catalogue every privately owned, publicly subsidized affordable rental property developed in New York City with financing and insurance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), HUD projectbased rental assistance, New York City or State Mitchell-Lama financing, or the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program. The pooling and layering of data, as well as
combining the data with other local housing and neighborhood information, in databases like the SHIP allow for a clearer understanding of the existing affordable housing stock and enable practitioners to more effectively target resources toward the preservation of affordable housing.
Do Vouchers Help Low Income Households Live in Safer Neighborhoods? Evidence on the Housing Choice Voucher Program
This article examines an important potential justification for the Housing Choice Voucher Program, namely, whether participants are able to access safer neighborhoods. We found that, in 2000, voucher households occupied neighborhoods that were about as safe as those housing the average poor renter household and were significantly safer than those in which households assisted through place-based programs lived.
Rental Housing Policy in the United States
In this volume of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s policy development and research journal, Cityscape, guest editors Vicki Been and Ingrid Gould Ellen bring together seven innovative proposals from leading housing researchers calling for changes in government policies to benefit renters and their communities. This collection of articles propose reforms, such as the elimination of the mortgage interest deduction, which could serve as viable alternatives to traditional federal rental programs. These perspectives offer U.S. policymakers ways to potentially adapt international housing assistance models to reform the domestic housing market.
Does City-Subsidized Owner-Occupied Housing Improve School Quality? Evidence from New York City
Policymakers have long promoted homeownership as a mechanism for community change. While previous studies have shown a positive association between homeownership and education at the individual level, ours is the first to systematically report on the effect of subsidized, owner-occupied housing on local schools. This New York City-focused analysis suggests that investments in subsidized, owner-occupied housing are associated with an increase in standardized reading and math scores at local schools, whereas similar investments in rental housing are not associated with any improvement in school quality. Subsidized, owner-occupied housing has also changed the demographic characteristics of local schools in New York City, increasing the percentage of white students and decreasing the percentage eligible for free lunch.