Building Environmentally Sustainable Communities: A Framework for Inclusivity
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has decided to include two key goals in all of its programs: encouraging sustainable communities and enhancing access to opportunity for lower-income people and people of color. This paper examines the relationship between these two goals through a literature review and an original empirical analysis of how these goals interact at the neighborhood and metropolitan area levels. We also offer policy recommendations for HUD.
Challenges Facing Housing Markets in the Next Decade: Developing a Policy-Relevant Research Agenda
This paper proposes a research agenda that addresses the major challenges facing the U.S. housing market: the long-term effects of the housing market crisis on today’s households and on the next generation, increasing poverty coupled with persistently high income inequality and volatility, continued concentration of poor and minority households in low-quality housing and low-opportunity neighborhoods, and the growing need for sustainable and resilient buildings and communities. This analysis is a framing paper for the What Works Collaborative, a foundation-supported research partnership that conducts timely research and analysis to help inform the implementation of an evidence-based housing and urban policy agenda.
Compact Units: Demand and Challenges
This research brief explores the potential that smaller housing units offer in meeting evolving housing needs and the regulatory barriers that inhibit their construction. The brief and the accompanying white paper, Responding to Changing Households: Regulatory Challenges for Micro-Units and Accessory Dwelling Units, focuses on five U.S. urban areas (New York, Washington D.C., Austin, Denver, and Seattle), and outlines the regulatory, financial, and political barriers that impede the development of smaller, denser housing types, such as micro-units and accessory dwelling units. Read the white paper (PDF) or view the press release.
Density and Disaster: New Models of Disaster Recovery for Housing in High-Density Cities
JAPA Disaster Planning Special Issue Planning Note
Flexibility and Conversions in New York City’s Housing Stock: Building for an Era of Rapid Change
The COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest crisis to bring rapid, lasting transformation to American cities. In places like New York City, demand for office spaces and hotels may never return to pre-pandemic levels, while the retail sector continues to decline with the rise of e-commerce. Given these shifting market conditions, conversions of commercial space into
apartments may be a critical tool for adaptation.
Household Energy Bills and Subsidized Housing
Household energy consumption is crucial to national energy policy. This article analyzes how the rules covering utility costs in the four major federal housing assistance programs alter landlord and tenant incentives for energy efficiency investment and conservation. We conclude that, relative to market-rate housing, assistance programs provide less incentive to landlords and tenants for energy efficiency investment and conservation, and utilities are more likely to be included in the rent. Using data from the American Housing Survey, we examine the differences in utility billing arrangements between assisted and unassisted low-income renters and find that—even when controlling for observable building and tenant differences—the rent that assisted tenants pay is more likely to include utilities. Among all tenants who pay utility bills separately from rent, observable
differences in energy expenses for assisted and unassisted tenants are driven by unit, building, and household characteristics rather than the receipt of government assistance.
Housing in the U.S. Floodplains
This brief, presented in conjuction with FloodzoneData.us describes characteristics about the housing stock located in the U.S. floodplains. Between 2011 and 2015, five percent of all occupied housing units in the United States were located in the 100-year floodplain, and 10 percent were located in combined (100- and 500-year) floodplains. The brief details factors that are important to understand when assessing the risk from flooding and the challenges of retrofitting, including the shares that are rental and owner-occupied, the age of the housing, and whether the housing is government subsidized.
Localized Commercial Effects from Natural Disasters: The Case of Hurricane Sandy and New York City
This paper considers the localized economic impacts of an extreme event, Hurricane Sandy, on a dense and diverse economy, New York City. It isolates establishments that are more dependent on local customers--retail establishments--to test whether or not they are more vulnerable to hurricane-induced flooding than other entities with geographically dispersed consumer bases. The paper exploits variation in micro-scale exposure to pre-storm risk and post-storm inundation to identify the impact of storm-induced flooding on establishment survival, employment and sales revenues. Results indicate that the neighborhood economic losses from Sandy were significant, persistent, and concentrated among retail businesses that tend to serve a more localized consumer base.
Low hanging fruit? Energy Efficiency and the Split Incentive in Subsidized Multifamily Housing
This paper explores whether and how the rules governing utility billing arrangements of subsidized housing programs impact energy consumption and exacerbate market failures that create incentives for both tenants and owners to be indifferent about their consumption levels. We test whether these incentives or dis-incentives result in higher energy consumption in subsidized properties than in comparable non-subsidized properties.The analysis focuses on three subsidized housing portfolios: Public Housing, Project-based Section 8, and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC). Using several multivariate regression models, we find that subsidized properties are associated with higher utility consumption than market-rate properties and, of the subsidized housing programs, Public Housing tends to consume the most energy.
Matching Words and Deeds? How Transit-Oriented are the Bloomberg-era Rezonings in New York City?
Anticipating that New York City will grow to more than nine million residents by 2030, the City has launched an ambitious planning agenda focused on development in neighborhoods well served by public transit. Between 2002 and 2009, New York City’s government enacted 100 significant changes to its zoning code, constituting the most significant change to the City’s land use regulations since the original version of the current zoning code was adopted in 1961. This chapter explores the cumulative impact of the individual zoning actions on residential capacity, and how the rezonings match the City’s stated development, environmental and transportation goals. The authors found that, consistent with desired development patterns, there has been a modest overall increase in residential capacity concentrated in neighborhoods near rail transit stations.