Publications

  • Effect of QAP Incentives on the Location of LIHTC Properties

    Recent research has examined the siting patterns of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments, but the reality is that the LIHTC program is not one uniform, national program. Rather, the program is administered by state allocating agencies, each of which has considerable discretion over how to allocate tax credits. In particular, each state issues a Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), which outlines the selection criteria the state will use when awarding its nine percent tax credits. Some criteria are required by the federal government, such as setting aside at least 10 percent of credits for nonprofit developers and using the minimum amount of tax credit financing feasible. However, states are also allowed to adopt additional criteria that further the state’s housing policy and other goals, such as providing set-asides for developments with existing housing subsidies, including the HOPE VI Program, or awarding bonus points for locating developments in particular types of neighborhoods. As the competition for credits has increased, it seems likely that these criteria play a greater role in shaping where tax credit developments are built.

  • Estimating the External Effects of Subsidized Housing Investment on Property Values

    Although housing investment is often promoted as a tool for neighborhood improvement, prior empirical research has failed to provide convincing evidence that subsidized housing investment generates significant external effects. This paper revisits the external effects of subsidized housing investment. With the benefit of a very rich dataset, we use a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model to estimate the spillover effects of publicly-assisted housing units produced under the New York City Ten Year Plan program.

  • Gateway to Opportunity? Disparities in Neighborhood Conditions Among Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Residents

    A key goal of housing assistance programs is to help lower income households reach neighborhoods of opportunity. Studies have described the degree to which Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments are located in high-opportunity neighborhoods, but our focus is on how neighborhood outcomes vary across different subsets of LIHTC residents. We also examine whether LIHTC households are better able to reach certain types of neighborhood opportunities. Specifically, we use new data on LIHTC tenants in 12 states along with eight measures of neighborhood opportunity. We find that compared with other rental units, LIHTC units are located in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates, weaker labor markets, more polluted environments, and lower performing schools, but better transit access. We also find that compared with other LIHTC tenants, poor and minority tenants live in neighborhoods that are significantly more disadvantaged.

  • Gentrification And The Health Of Low-Income Children In New York City

    Although the pace of gentrification has accelerated in cities across the US, little is known about the health consequences of growing up in gentrifying neighborhoods. This study used New York State Medicaid claims data to track a cohort of low-income children born in the period 2006–08 for the nine years between January 2009 and December 2017. It compared the 2017 health outcomes of children who started out in low-income neighborhoods that gentrified in the period 2009–15 with those of children who started out in other low-income neighborhoods, controlling for individual child demographic characteristics, baseline neighborhood characteristics, and preexisting trends in neighborhood socioeconomic status.

  • Government Policies and Household Size:  Evidence from New York

    What determines how many adults live in a house? How do people divide themselves up among households? Average household sizes vary substantially, both over time and in the cross-section. In this paper, we describe how a variety of government policies affect living arrangements, intentionally or not. Using data from a survey of households in New York City, we find that these incentives appear to have an impact. Specifically, households receiving these housing and income subsidies are smaller on average (measured by number of adults). The impacts appear to be considerably larger than those that would occur if the programs were lump-sum transfers. Small average household size can be extremely expensive in terms of physical and environmental resources, higher rents, and possibly homelessness. Thus, we encourage policymakers to pay greater heed to the provisions built into various social policies that favor smaller households.

  • Has Falling Crime Driven New York City’s Real Estate Boom?

    We investigate whether falling crime has driven New York City’s post-1994 real estate boom, as media reports suggest. We address this by decomposing trends in the city’s property value from 1988 to 1998 into components due to crime, the city’s investment in subsidized low-income housing, the quality of public schools, and other factors. We use rich data and employ both hedonic and repeat-sales house price models, which allow us to control for unobservable neighborhood and building-specific effects. We find that the popular story touting the overwhelming importance of crime rates has some truth to it. Falling crime rates are responsible for about a third of the post-1994 boom in property values. However, this story is incomplete because it ignores the revitalization of New York City’s poorer communities and the large role that housing subsidies played in mitigating the earlier bust.

  • 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 and Educational Opportunity: Characteristics of Local Schools Near Families with Federal Housing Assistance

    This report focuses on access to neighborhood elementary schools, highlighting disparities between families living in subsidized housing and those who do not. It describes the characteristics of the local public elementary schools to which children living in subsidized housing have access, including their student demographics, teacher characteristics and relative proficiency rates. The report shows that that families receiving all four major types of federal housing assistance lived near lower performing and higher poverty schools than other poor families with children as well as other renters with children.

  • Housing Production Subsidies and Neighborhood Revitalization: New York City’s Ten Year Capital

    A perennial question in housing policy concerns the form that housing assistance should take. Although some argue that housing assistance should be thought of as a form of income support and advocate direct cash grants to needy households, others favor earmarked assistance—but they differ over whether subsidies should be given to the recipients as vouchers or to developers as production subsidies.

  • 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.