Publications

  • Coming to the Nuisance or Going to the Barrios

    The environmental justice movement asserts that low-income and minority neighborhoods are exposed to greater risks from environmental hazards than other neighborhoods because of racism and classism in the siting of locally undesirable land uses (LULUs), the promulgation of environmental and land use regulations, the enforcement of those regulations, and the effort spent on cleaning polluted areas. These claims, and the movement’s demands for a more equitable distribution of environmental “goods”, like clean air, and of environmental “bads”, like waste facilities, are increasingly central to deliberations about environmental and land use policy in the United States. President Clinton signed an Executive Order in February 1994 that requires every federal agency to “make achieving environmental justice part of its mission….” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a national Environmental Justice Office, the National Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, and environmental justice coordinators within each of its departments and regional offices in order to address environmental justice issues. Environmental impact statements prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 5 (NEPA) now address environmental justice concerns. At least seven states have adopted legislation regarding environmental justice, and many more are now considering such legislation.

    • Date: January 1997
    • Research Area(s):
    • Publication Type: Articles
    • Publication: Ecology Law Quarterly, 24(1), pp. 1-56
  • Comment on ‘Metropolitan Growth, Inequality, and Neighborhood Segregation by Income’

    Over the last three decades, residential segregation by income has become an increasingly important feature of the U.S. metropolitan landscape. From 1970 to 2000, income sorting grew in large cities. In the 1980s almost all American metropolitan areas experienced a rise in segregation of the rich from the poor, though these changes were slightly offset by modest declines in segregation during the 1990s. More than 85 percent of the U.S. metropolitan population lived in an area that was more segregated by income in 2000 than in 1970. The time trend in residential segregation by income hints that income inequality may play an explanatory role.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Crime and Urban Flight Revisited: The Effect of the 1990s Drop in Crime on Cities

    For most of the twentieth century, concerns about safety and high crime rates have beset U.S. cities. Researchers and policymakers pointed to these high urban crime rates as one of the chief ‘urban blights’ from which middle class, mobile (and typically white) households fled during the post-War period, fueling suburbanization. But this picture changed dramatically in the 1990s, a decade during which the crime rate in the U.S. fell by a remarkable thirty percent, and crime rates in many U.S. cities declined even further. This paper builds on the ‘flight from blight’ literature, and considers what effect (if any) the 1990s drop in crime rates had on urban population changes.

  • Decoding the Foreclosure Crisis: Causes, Responses and Consequences

    In a Point/Counterpoint exchange, Furman Center researchers discuss the causes and consequences of the foreclosure crisis. Each of the Point/Counterpoint teams was asked to address a set of questions covering the scope and causes of the foreclosure crisis, whether the federal policy response was appropriate, and how the future of mortgage lending may change in response to the crisis.

  • Density and Disaster: New Models of Disaster Recovery for Housing in High-Density Cities

    JAPA Disaster Planning Special Issue Planning Note

  • Desvinculado y Desigual: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos?

    Despite the high levels of metropolitan area segregation experienced by Latinos, there is a lack of research examining the effects of segregation on Latino socio-economic outcomes and whether those effects differ from the negative effects documented for African Americans. The authors find that segregation is consistently associated with lower levels of educational attainment and labor market success for both African-American and Latino young adults compared to whites, with associations of similar magnitudes for both groups. One mechanism through which segregation may influence outcomes is the difference in the levels of neighborhood human capital to which whites, Latinos, and African Americans are exposed. The authors find that higher levels of segregation are associated with lower black and Latino neighborhood exposure to residents with college degrees, relative to whites. They also find support for other commonly-discussed mechanisms, such as exposure to neighborhood violent crime and the relative proficiency of the closest public school.

  • Disentangling the Racial Test Score Gap: Probing the Evidence in a Large Urban School District

    We examine the size and distribution of the gap in test scores across races within New York City public schools and the factors that explain these gaps. While gaps are partially explained by differences in student characteristics, such as poverty, differences in schools attended are also important. At the same time, substantial within-school gaps remain and are only partly explained by differences in academic preparation across students from different race groups. Controlling for differences in classrooms attended explains little of the remaining gap, suggesting little role for within-school inequities in resources. There is some evidence that school characteristics matter. Race gaps are negatively correlated with school size—implying small schools may be helpful. In addition, the trade-off between the size and experience of the teaching staff in urban schools may carry unintended consequences for within-school race gaps.