Publications

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Community Benefits Agreements: A New Local Government Tool or Another Variation on the Exactions Theme?

    Community benefits agreements (CBAs) are the latest in a long line of tools neighbors have used to protect their neighborhood from the burdens of development, and to try to secure benefits from the proposed development. This Article canvasses the benefits and drawbacks various stakeholders perceive CBAs to offer or to threaten, and reviews the legal and policy questions CBAs present. It recommends that local governments avoid the use of CBAs in land use approval processes unless the CBAs are negotiated through processes designed to ensure the transparency of the negotiations, the representativeness and accountability of the negotiators, and the legality and enforceability of the CBAs’ terms.

  • How Have Recent Rezonings Affected the City’s Ability to Grow?

    How Have Recent Rezonings Affected the City’s Ability to Grow? is the first comprehensive statistical analysis of the City’s rezoning strategy. The report examines the net impact of the 76 rezonings initiated by the City between 2003 and 2007.  It finds that, of the 188,000 rezoned lots citywide, 86% were rezoned to reduce or limit new development through either a downzoning or a contextual-only rezoning.  Nevertheless, the 14% of lots that were upzoned resulted in a net gain of 100 million square feet of new capacity citywide. The report explores the likelihood that this new capacity will be developed for residential use, and examines the characteristics of neighborhoods that gained new capacity and of those that lost capacity.

  • The High Cost of Segregation: The Relationship Between Racial Segregation and Subprime Lending

    This study examines whether the likelihood that borrowers of different races received a subprime loan varied depending on the level of racial segregation where they live.  It looks both at the role of racial segregation in metropolitan areas across the country and at the role that neighborhood demographics within communities in New York City played.

  • Underused Lots in New York City

    Despite a robust real estate market for most of this decade, researchers and policymakers have observed that many areas of New York City have remained built out well below their zoning capacity. This study aims to contribute to our understanding of urban redevelopment by compiling and analyzing a large database of underdeveloped lots in the City. We identify about 200,000 such lots as of 2003 that were built out at less than 50% of their zoning capacity, representing about a quarter of all residentially zoned lots. Of these, about 8% were redeveloped during the subsequent four years. Our preliminary analysis reveals that underdeveloped lots are primarily made up of low density 1-4 family houses and are disproportionately located in poor and minority neighborhoods. We plan to use this analysis as the foundation for further analysis to assess whether market failures and regulatory and other barriers impede desirable development in mature cities.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Transforming Foreclosed Properties into Community Assets

    Last May, the Furman Center, with support from the Ford Foundation, convened leading housing researchers, policymakers, lenders, and nonprofit housing organizations to discuss how best to leverage public and private resources to reuse foreclosed properties in a manner that helps stabilize neighborhoods. The Furman Center has produced a White Paper, Transforming Foreclosed Properties into Community Assets, that documents that roundtable conversation, summarizes much of the discussion’s substance, and includes links to resources—ranging from existing research papers on related topics to listings of REO properties—that we hope will be useful to practitioners, researchers and policymakers involved in neighborhood stabilization projects.

  • 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.