Planning for Opportunity: How Planners Can Expand Access to Affordable Opportunity Bargain Areas
There is strong evidence that living in high-opportunity neighborhoods can improve children's long-term educational and economic outcomes; translating this into practical advice for planners is difficult. Planning discussions rarely consider how much that opportunity costs, even though planners must grapple with the typically higher cost of providing housing in opportunity areas. This paper argues for a streamlined measure called the school–violence–poverty (SVP) index based on three contemporary metrics that research shows enhance economic mobility for children: school quality, violent crime, and poverty.
The Academic Effects of Chronic Exposure to Neighborhood Violence
Since the pandemic began, the city has experienced a significant increase in gun violence and homicide which can lead to emotional distress, behavioral changes, and detrimental cognitive effects for students. This paper examines the differences between students with varying levels of crime exposure and finds that increased exposure results in lower English Language Arts (ELA) and math exam scores. The paper’s regression models suggest that exposure to violence had an adverse effect on reading and math test scores for students, and the effects increased with the number of violent crimes. The results provide some support for the theory that students can become sensitized to violence through increased exposure, meaning that children in more violent communities see the largest decline in test scores with each additional exposure to violent crime. The study also finds racial and gender differences, with Black and female students experiencing the largest test score losses as exposure to violent crimes increased.
Has Falling Crime Invited Gentrification?
Since the early 1990s, central city crime has fallen dramatically in the United States. This study explores the extent to which this trend may have contributed to gentrification. Using confidential census microdata, the authors show that reductions in central city violent crime are associated with increases in the probability that high-income and college-educated households move into central city neighborhoods, including low-income neighborhoods, instead of the suburbs. The authors then use neighborhood-level crime and home purchase data for five major U.S. cities and find that falling neighborhood crime is associated with increasing numbers and shares of high-income movers to low-income central city neighborhoods.
Open Access School Climate and the Impact of Neighborhood Crime on Test Scores
Does school climate ameliorate or exacerbate the impact of neighborhood violent crime on test scores? Using administrative data from the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Police Department, this study finds that exposure to violence in the residential neighborhood and an unsafe climate at school lead to substantial test score losses in English language arts (ELA). Middle school students exposed to neighborhood violent crime before the ELA exam who attend schools perceived to be less safe or to have a weak sense of community score 0.06 and 0.03 standard deviations lower, respectively. The study finds the largest negative effects for boys and Hispanic students in the least safe schools, and no effect of neighborhood crime for students attending schools with better climates.
Black and Latino Segregation and Socioeconomic Outcomes
Latinos seem to be inheriting the segregated urban structures experienced by African Americans and, to a similar extent, the diminished social and economic outcomes associated with segregation. This brief examines the relationships between metropolitan segregation levels and socioeconomic outcomes for Latinos and African Americans and explores mechanisms to explain these relationships. It finds that in more segregated metropolitan areas, both native-born Latinos and African Americans are significantly less likely compared with whites to graduate from high school and college, are more likely than whites to be neither working nor in school. Additionally, higher levels of segregation are associated with dramatic reductions in earnings for both African Americans and Latinos relative to whites. The research brief summarizes the findings of the article, Desvinculado y Desigual: Is Segregation Harmful to Latinos? (PDF), which was published in the July 2015 edition of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. See the press release or read the key findings.
Housing, Neighborhoods, and Children’s Health
In theory, improving low-income families’ housing and neighborhoods could also improve their children’s health, through any number of mechanisms. For example, less exposure to environmental toxins could prevent diseases such as asthma; a safer, less violent neighborhood could improve health by reducing the chances of injury and death, and by easing the burden of stress; and a more walkable neighborhood with better playgrounds could encourage children to exercise, making them less likely to become obese. Yet although neighborhood improvement policies generally achieve their immediate goals— investments in playgrounds create playgrounds, for example—Ingrid Gould Ellen and Sherry Glied find that many of these policies don’t show a strong effect on poor children’s health. One problem is that neighborhood improvements may price low-income families out of the very neighborhoods that have been improved, as new amenities draw more affluent families, causing rents and home prices to rise. Policy makers, say Ellen and Glied, should carefully consider how neighborhood improvements may affect affordability, a calculus that is likely to favor policies with clear and substantial benefits for low-income children, such as those that reduce neighborhood violence. Housing subsidies can help families either cope with rising costs or move to more affluent neighborhoods. Unfortunately, demonstration programs that help families move to better neighborhoods have had only limited effects on children’s health, possibly because such transitions can be stressful. And because subsidies go to relatively few low-income families, the presence of subsidies may itself drive up housing costs, placing an extra burden on the majority of families that don’t receive them. Ellen and Glied suggest that policy makers consider whether granting smaller subsidies to more families would be a more effective way to use these funds.
Race and Neighborhoods in the 21st Century
This research brief explores the state of racial segregation in American neighborhoods, and the connection between segregation and gaps in neighborhood conditions. Based on a working paper that analyzed U.S. segregation patterns between the years 1980 and 2010, the research finds that minority groups and whites continue to live in separate and highly unequal neighborhoods. Black and Hispanic households tend to live in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates, fewer college-educated neighbors, lower-performing schools, and higher violent crime rates. Moreover, these differences in neighborhood conditions are amplified in more segregated metropolitan areas. View the working paper, press release, and other resources here.
Housing, Neighborhoods, and Opportunity: The Location of New York City’s Subsidized Affordable Housing
This report examines changes in the location and neighborhood characteristics of subsidized rental housing in New York City. The study shows that the distribution of subsidized rental units across New York City’s neighborhoods changed significantly between 2002 and 2011, not just as a result of new development, but also because of differential opt-out rates across neighborhoods. As a result, the city is losing affordable housing in the neighborhoods with the highest quality schools, lowest crime rates, and greatest access to jobs. Released in conjuction with the report, the Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP) is an online, searchable database of privately-owned, subsidized rental housing in New York City. View the press release or view the NYU Furman Center's infographic, New York City's Opt-Out Outlook.
Mortgage Foreclosures and the Shifting Context of Crime in Micro-Neighborhoods
In the wake of the housing crisis there is growing concern that increased mortgage foreclosures may lead to physical deterioration of buildings and increased vacancy rates in neighborhoods, undermining neighborhood social controls, and causing increases in local crime. While some recent research suggests that increased mortgage foreclosures in micro-neighborhoods cause modest increases in crime (Ellen, Lacoe, and Sharygin, 2013; Cui, 2010), this paper considers whether foreclosures lead to increased crime on a block, as well as the mechanisms through which foreclosures affect neighborhood crime. To shed light on mechanisms, we investigate whether and how foreclosures shift the location and type of criminal activity by changing the relative attractiveness to potential offenders of one location versus another. For instance, the presence of a vacant, foreclosed building may make it more likely that a drug dealer will sell drugs in a building rather than on the street. As a result, crime occurring inside residences (and in vacant buildings in particular) and on the street may increase by different magnitudes. In addition, we consider whether foreclosures affect resident reports of disorder. Using richly detailed foreclosure, 311, and crime data geo-coded to the blockface (a street segment in-between the two closest cross-streets), we estimate the impact of foreclosures on the location of crime within blockfaces. This research focuses on Chicago, Illinois. Like many areas of the country, housing prices in Chicago reached a peak in 2006, and declined through 2011. In September 2011, 8.7 percent of the mortgages in the Chicago metropolitan area were in foreclosure, giving Chicago the 11th highest foreclosure rate among the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country. Recent media reports claim that foreclosed and abandoned buildings in Chicago attract criminal activity including gang activity, drug use, and burglaries, in addition to graffiti, and theft of copper pipes and radiators (Knight and O’Shea, 2011). This study takes an empirical look at how foreclosures have changed patterns of crime in Chicago.
High Stakes in the Classroom, High Stakes on the Street: The Effects of Community Violence on Students’ Standardized Test Performance.
This paper examines the effect of exposure to violent crime on students’ standardized test performance among a sample of students in New York City public schools. To identify the effect of exposure to community violence on children’s test scores, we compare students exposed to an incident of violent crime on their own blockface in the week prior to the exam to students exposed in the week after the exam. The results show that such exposure to violent crime reduces performance on English Language Arts assessments, and no effect on Math scores. The effect of exposure to violent crime is most pronounced among African Americans, and reduces the passing rates of black students by approximately 3 percentage points.