Publications

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  • Silver Bullet or Trojan Horse? The Effects of Inclusionary Zoning on Local Housing Markets in the United States

    Many local governments are adopting inclusionary zoning (IZ) as a means of producing affordable housing without direct public subsidies. In this paper, we use panel data on IZ in the San Francisco metropolitan area and Suburban Boston to analyze how much affordable housing the programs produce and how IZ affects the prices and production of market-rate housing. The amount of affordable housing produced under IZ has been modest and depends primarily on how long IZ has been in place. Results from Suburban Boston suggest that IZ has contributed to increased housing prices and lower rates of production during periods of regional house price appreciation. In the San Francisco area, IZ also appears to increase housing prices in times of regional price appreciation but depresses prices during cooler regional markets. There is no evidence of a statistically significant effect of IZ on new housing development in the Bay Area.

  • 31 Flavors of Inclusionary Zoning: Comparing Policies From San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Suburban Boston

    As housing costs have risen in the U.S. and federal subsidies for affordable housing programs have declined, inclusionary zoning (IZ) has become an increasingly popular local policy for producing low-income housing without direct public subsidy. The structure of IZ policies can vary in a number of ways; consequently, there is not yet a consensus about what policies constitute “true” inclusionary zoning. In this paper we compare the ways in which IZ programs have been structured in three regions in which it is relatively widespread and long-standing. Our results demonstrate that IZ programs are highly complex and exhibit considerable variation in their structures and outcomes. In the San Francisco Bay Area, IZ programs tend to be mandatory and apply broadly across locations and structure types, but attempt to soften potential negative impacts with cost offsets and alternatives to on-site construction. In the Washington DC area, most IZ programs are also mandatory, but have broader exemptions for small developments and low-density housing types. IZ programs in the Suburban Boston area exhibit the most withinregion heterogeneity. In this area, IZ is more likely to be voluntary and to apply only to a narrow range of developments, such as multifamily or age-restricted housing, or within certain zoning districts. The amount of affordable housing produced under IZ varies considerably, both within and across the regions. The flexibility of IZ allows planners to create a program that accommodates local policy goals, housing market conditions and political circumstances.

  • No Renters in My Suburban Backyard: Land Use Regulation and Rental Housing

    Academics and policymakers have argued that the ability of low- and moderate-income families to move into desirable suburban areas is constrained by the high cost of housing. Local zoning and other forms of land use regulation are believed to contribute to increased housing prices by reducing supply and increasing the size of new housing. Suburban restrictions on rental housing are particularly likely to reduce mobility for low-income families. In this paper, I employ an instrumental variables approach to examine the effects of zoning on the quantity and price of rental housing in Massachusetts, using historical municipal characteristics to instrument for current regulations. Results suggest that communities with more restrictive zoning issue significantly fewer building permits for multifamily housing but provide only weak evidence of the effects of regulations on rents. The lack of effects on rents may reflect the low level of multifamily development, while analysis is complicated by development of subsidized housing under the state’s affordable housing law.

  • Tenants: Innocent Victims of the Nation’s Foreclosure Crisis

    Renters are innocent victims of the foreclosure crisis, losing their homes through no fault of their own when their landlord goes into foreclosure. Until lately, the national discussion on the foreclosure crisis largely focused on owner-occupied homes, but recent analysis reveals that the crisis is significantly impacting renters across the country. New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy found that in New York City, well over half of all foreclosure filings in 2007 were on two to four family or multi-family buildings, and a growing body of data and anecdotal evidence indicates that the problem is not isolated to New York City; heart wrenching stories of renters losing their homes have appeared in newspapers nationwide.

  • Immigration and Urban Schools: The Dynamics of Demographic Change in the Nation’s Largest School District

    The authors use a rich data set on New York City public elementary schools to explore how changes in immigrant representation have played out at the school level, providing a set of stylistic facts about the magnitude and nature of demographic changes in urban schools. They find that while the city experienced an overall increase in its immigrant representation over the 5 years studied, its elementary schools did not. Although the average school experienced little change during this period, a significant minority of schools saw sizable shifts. The change does not mirror the White flight and ‘tipping’ associated with desegregation but rather suggests a tendency to stabilize, with declines in immigrant enrollments concentrated in schools with larger immigrant populations at the outset. The authors also find that changes in the immigrant shares influence the composition of the school’s students, and that overall school demographic changes do not mirror grade-level changes within schools.

  • Neighborhood Effects of Concentrated Mortgage Foreclosures

    As the national mortgage crisis has worsened, an increasing number of communities are facing declining housing prices and high rates of foreclosure. Central to the call for government intervention in this crisis is the claim that foreclosures not only hurt those who are losing their homes to foreclosure, but also harm neighbors by reducing the value of nearby properties and in turn, reducing local governments’ tax bases. The extent to which foreclosures do in fact drive down neighboring property values has become a crucial question for policy-makers. In this paper, we use a unique dataset on property sales and foreclosure filings in New York City from 2000 to 2005 to identify the effects of foreclosure starts on housing prices in the surrounding neighborhood. Regression results suggest that above some threshold, proximity to properties in foreclosure is associated with lower sales prices. The magnitude of the price discount increases with the number of properties in foreclosure, but not in a linear relationship.

  • Neighbors and Neighborhoods

    The concept of neighborhood has long been a topic of popular discourse and a subject of academic interest. Despite this attention, there is little agreement on what the term ‘neighborhood’ means.

  • Supporting Integrative Choices

    The author draws on her research on racially integrated neighborhoods—and in particular neighborhoods shared by white and black households—in order to suggest a few policies that might help to promote racial integration.

  • The High Cost of Segregation: Exploring Racial Disparities in High-Cost Lending

    This article argues that policy makers addressing racial disparities in the share of subprime mortgages must take into account the relationship between existing levels of racial segregation and the racial disparities in the types of mortgages homeowners received. The authors examine approximately 200 metropolitan areas across the country and note the significant racial disparities in the percentage of subprime mortgages received by different racial groups. Various mechanisms that explain these racial disparities are also explored. The authors ultimately conclude that residential segregation plays a significant role in shaping lending patterns.

  • Reversal of Fortunes? Low Income Neighborhoods in the US in the 1990s

    This paper offers new empirical evidence about the prospects of lower-income, US urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. Using the Neighborhood Change Database, which offers a balanced panel of census tracts with consistent boundaries from 1970 to 2000 for all metropolitan areas in the US, evidence is found of a significant shift in the fortunes of lower-income, urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. There was a notable increase in the 1990s in the proportion of lower-income and poor neighbourhoods experiencing a gain in economic status. Secondly, in terms of geographical patterns, it is found that this upgrading occurred throughout the country, not just in selected regions or cities. Finally, it is found that the determinants of changes in lower-income, urban neighbourhoods shifted during the 1990s. In contrast to earlier decades, both the share of Blacks and the poverty rate were positively related to subsequent economic gain in these neighbourhoods during the 1990s.