Publications

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Estimating the External Effects of Subsidized Housing Investment on Property Values

    Although housing investment is often promoted as a tool for neighborhood improvement, prior empirical research has failed to provide convincing evidence that subsidized housing investment generates significant external effects. This paper revisits the external effects of subsidized housing investment. With the benefit of a very rich dataset, we use a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model to estimate the spillover effects of publicly-assisted housing units produced under the New York City Ten Year Plan program.

  • 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.

  • Immigrant Children and Urban Schools: Evidence from NYC on Segregation and its Consequences

    For several decades, social scientists have tracked the fiscal health of American central cities with some degree of concern. Suburbanization, spawned by technological innovations, consumer preferences, and at least to some extent by government policy, has selectively pulled affluent households out of urban jurisdictions. The leaders of these jurisdictions are left with the prospect of satisfying more concentrated demands for services with a dwindling tax base, realizing that further increasing the burden they place on residents will simply drive more of them away. In the process, cities have become concentrated centers of poverty, joblessness, crime, and other social pathologies.

  • Neighborhood Effects on Health: Exploring the Links and Assessing the Evidence

    This article explores the possible causal pathways through which neighborhoods might affect health and then reviews the existing evidence. Although methodological issues make the literature inconclusive, the authors offer a provisional hypothesis for how neighborhoods shape health outcomes. They hypothesize that neighborhoods may primarily influence health in two ways: first, through relatively short-term influences on behaviors, attitudes, and health-care utilization, thereby affecting health conditions that are most immediately responsive to such influences; and second, through a longer-term process of “weathering,” whereby the accumulated stress, lower environmental quality, and limited resources of poorer communities, experienced over many years, erodes the health of residents in ways that make them more vulnerable to mortality from any given disease. Finally, drawing on the more extensive research that has been done exploring the effects of neighborhoods on education and employment, the authors suggest several directions for future research.

  • Community Development Corporations and Welfare Reform: Linkages, Roles, and Impacts

    This study examined the impact of welfare reform on housing owned by community development corporations (CDCs), investigating how early implementation of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) affected the financial status of CDCs' affordable housing developments. Five types of financial impacts were considered: tenant incomes and employment; other tenant behaviors; late payments; turnover; and aggregate changes in CDC income and expenses. The study examined four CDCs in each of six cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Cleveland, Ohio; Chicago, Illinois; Minneapolis, Minnesota; New York, New York; and San Francisco, California. Research methodology included interviews with CDC staff, tenant representatives, and leaders from other civic institutions; follow-up questionnaires of key respondents; and focus groups with tenants. Overall, among those organizations that engaged in various nonhousing activities or viewed their missions as including community development in broader terms, many were already providing job training, child care, or other social services that might be thought of as responding to welfare reform. These groups reported that such efforts had little to do with the advent of welfare reform. While many CDC staffers were concerned about the impact of welfare reform laws on impoverished communities, they reported little evidence of increased problems and found most changes in their neighborhoods to be positive.

  • Building Homes, Reviving Neighborhoods: Spillovers from Subsidized Construction of Owner-Occupied Housing in New York City

    This article examines the impact of two New York City homeownership programs on surrounding property values.  Both programs, the Nehemiah Program and the Partnership New Homes program, subsidize the construction of affordable owner-occupied homes in distressed neighborhoods.  Our results show that during the past two decades prices of properties in the rings surrounding the homeownership projects have risen relative to their ZIP codes.  Results suggest that part of that rise is attributable to the affordable homeownership programs.