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.
The Evolving Crisis in Context: Recent Developments for Tenants in the Foreclosure Crisis
Although the plight of renters in the foreclosure crisis has entered the consciousness of national policymakers, renters have more often than not been omitted from the narratives offered to describe the ongoing crisis. Despite the lack of attention they have received, many thousands of rent-paying tenants have also been affected by the foreclosure crisis. Fortunately, tenants have received specific protections from mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as well as new rights under new federal laws. But while these new protections and rights should help, tenants still face significant uncertainty as the foreclosure crisis continues to unfold and outreach and communication of these rights will be essential. This chapter, assesses the extent and scale of the challenges facing renters in the foreclosure crisis, as well federal action and GSE policy changes designed to address their rights. It is an excerpt from a report by The National Center for Suburban Studies at Hofstra University, “Forging a New Housing Policy: Opportunity in the Wake of Crisis.”
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.
Spillovers and Subsidized Housing: The Impact of Subsidized Rental Housing on Neighborhoods
Rental housing is increasingly recognized as a vital housing option in the United States. Yet government policies and programs continue to grapple with widespread problems, including affordability, distressed urban neighborhoods, poor-quality housing stock, concentrated poverty, and exposure to health hazards in the home. These challenges can be costly and difficult to address. The time is ripe for fresh, authoritative analysis of this important yet often overlooked sector.
Does Federally Subsidized Rental Housing Depress Neighborhood Property Values?
Few communities welcome subsidized housing, with one of the most commonly voiced fears being reductions in property values. Yet there is little empirical evidence that subsidized housing depresses neighborhood property values. This paper estimates and compares the neighborhood impacts of a broad range of federally-subsidized, rental housing programs, using rich data for New York City and a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model.
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.
Comment on ‘The Effects of Affordable and Multifamily Housing on Market Values of Nearby Homes’
Advocates of growth management and smart growth often propose policies that raise housing prices, thereby making housing less affordable to many households trying to buy or rent homes. Such policies include urban growth boundaries, zoning restrictions on multi-family housing, utility district lines, building permit caps, and even construction moratoria. Does this mean there is an inherent conflict between growth management and smart growth on the one hand, and creating more affordable housing on the other? Or can growth management and smart growth promote policies that help increase the supply of affordable housing?