• Author: Katherine O’Regan ×
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  • How Low Income Neighborhoods Change: Entry, Exit, and Enhancement

    The 1990s were a decade of economic improvement for low-income neighborhoods.  The number of high-poverty neighborhoods declined (Jargowsky, 2003), and the number of low-income neighborhoods experiencing a gain in average income greatly exceeded those experiencing a decline. In this study we have three research questions focused on neighborhoods that gain economically.  First, do we indeed find evidence of displacement, particularly among those with fewest resources?  Second, what are the sources of neighborhood income change? Are the sole sources of change selective entry and exit, or does incumbent upgrading also play a role?  And finally, what other changes accompany neighborhood income gains?

  • Neighborhood Crime Exposure Among Housing Choice Voucher Households

    The federal government increasingly relies on housing vouchers to make housing more affordable and hopefully enable low-income households to reach higher quality neighborhoods. This study analyzes the efficacy of the voucher program at achieving this goal, focusing on neighborhood crime. Using census tract-level crime and subsidized housing data from 91 large cities in 2000, the study compares neighborhood crime rates of voucher holders to those of public housing, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, and unassisted poor renter households. Our paper finds that while voucher households resided in neighborhoods about as safe as that of poor renter households, and with much lower crime rates than those lived in by other subsidized households, the voucher households did not choose a lower poverty neighborhood. In addition, the study finds differences by race, which suggest that housing vouchers may be more effective helping black households reach safer neighborhoods than white and Hispanic households.

  • Crime and Urban Flight Revisited: The Effect of the 1990s Drop in Crime on Cities

    For most of the twentieth century, concerns about safety and high crime rates have beset U.S. cities. Researchers and policymakers pointed to these high urban crime rates as one of the chief ‘urban blights’ from which middle class, mobile (and typically white) households fled during the post-War period, fueling suburbanization. But this picture changed dramatically in the 1990s, a decade during which the crime rate in the U.S. fell by a remarkable thirty percent, and crime rates in many U.S. cities declined even further. This paper builds on the ‘flight from blight’ literature, and considers what effect (if any) the 1990s drop in crime rates had on urban population changes.

  • Siting, Spillovers, and Segregation: A Re-examination of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program

    As of the end of 2005, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program had allocated $7.5 billion in federal tax credits and supported the development of more than 1.5 million units. A growing number of advocates and observers worry that the LIHTC program, by failing to monitor the siting of developments and, more directly, by giving priority to developers building housing in  high-poverty areas, is furthering poverty and racial concentration. Yet, many community development organizations see the tax credit program as a central tool in their efforts to revitalize these high-poverty, urban neighborhoods. In this chapter, the authors try to inject some empirical evidence into this debate by examining the extent to which the tax credit program may have contributed to poverty concentration as well as to neighborhood revitalization.

  • Welcome to the Neighborhood: What can Regional Science Contribute to the Study of Neighborhoods?

    In this paper the authors argue that neighborhoods are highly relevant for the types of issues at the heart of regional science. First, residential and economic activity takes place in particular locations, and particular neighborhoods. Many attributes of those neighborhood environments matter for this activity, from the physical amenities, to the quality of the public and private services received. Second, those neighborhoods vary in their placement in the larger region and this broader arrangement of neighborhoods is particularly important for location choices, commuting behavior and travel patterns. Third, sorting across these neighborhoods by race and income may well matter for educational and labor market outcomes, important components of a region's overall economic activity. For each of these areas we suggest a series of unanswered questions that would benefit from more attention. Focused on neighborhood characteristics themselves, there are important gaps in our understanding of how neighborhoods change - the causes and the consequences. In terms of the overall pattern of neighborhoods and resulting commuting patterns, this connects directly to current concerns about environmental sustainability and there is much need for research relevant to policy makers. And in terms of segregation and sorting across neighborhoods, work is needed on better spatial measures. In addition, housing market causes and consequences for local economic activity are under researched. The authors expand on each of these, finishing with some suggestions on how newly available data, with improved spatial identifiers, may enable regional scientists to answer some of these research questions.

  • 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.

  • 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.