Through the Roof: What Communities Can Do About the High Cost of Rental Housing in America
Housing affordability continues to be a major concern for residents across the country. In this report, the authors look at what local governments can do to mitigate rising costs of rental housing in the U.S. The report reviews the root causes of high rent burdens and the consequences, including the impact of housing choice vouchers and modest increases in income. It also discusses why housing costs rise, looking more closely at housing markets and the factors that contribute to rising rent burdens. The report then reviews government policy responses at the local, state, and federal level before laying out a framework that municipalities can use to help provide citizens affordable housing options. It serves as a helpful tool for local officials considering new housing strategies or those interesting in improving existing policies.
A Renter Safety Net: A Call for Federal Emergency Rental Assistance
For decades, escalating housing costs have outpaced income growth for middle- and lower-income earners. As a result, millions of American households struggle to accumulate a savings buffer with the little income they have leftover after paying rent, and are therefore left vulnerable to evictions or forced moves when unexpected financial shocks occur. In this chapter, authors Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, Amy Ganz, Deputy Director of the Economic Strategy Group, and Katherine O’Regan, Professor of Public Policy and Planning at NYU Wagner and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, document the costly externalities that such housing instability poses and propose the creation of a Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide one-time, short-term financial help to low-income renters who face unexpected financial shocks.
How Can Historic Preservation Be More Inclusive? Learning From New York City’s Historic Districts
Historic preservation policies uphold the cultural heritage of a city while also impacting the social and economic landscape of the neighborhoods preserved. This chapter describes findings from analyses that compare New York City neighborhoods which received historic designations with comparable ones that did not. To broaden the agenda of the preservation community, the authors describe effects seen in work done by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission ever since it was created in 1965. They advocate for a closer look at the impact historic preservation has on equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due: Overhauling the CRA
The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is in need of a major overhaul. Since the CRA was enacted in 1977, and since the last major rewrite of the regulations more than 15 years ago, much about the financial services industry has changed. This chapter discusses why the regulatory system needs to be redesigned to allow for more regular and timely updates, allowing more rapid responses to what is working and what is not. By being more amenable to continuous improvement, the CRA should be more open to innovation and experimentation given the greater opportunity for making midterm corrections. This chapter starts with a brief overview of the CRA and its successes. It then outlines some ways to facilitate more regular updating of the CRA regulations, followed by a review of a number of ways to increase the effectiveness of CRA in helping to stabilize and revitalize low-and moderate-income (LMI) communities.
How New York Housing Policies Are Different—and Maybe Why
This chapter describes New York's housing policies, exploring how and why they differ from those in Los Angeles and other large cities, and whether they have shaped how New York's housing market has weathered the recent downturn. The policies considered are public housing, in rem properties, other subsidized housing, rent control, housing allowances, city capital subsidies for construction and rehabilitation, special needs housing, local tax structures, and building codes. The chapter is organized as follows. Section I describes the city's housing policies and contrasts them with those in Los Angeles and other large cities in the U.S. Section II compares how the housing markets in New York and Los Angeles have fared during the recent downturn and considers whether differences in policies have shaped differences in outcomes. Section III explores some likely explanations for New York's set of housing policies, while the final section concludes.
Racial Segregation in Multiethnic Schools: Adding Immigrants to the Analysis
The authors explore how increases in immigration are likely to affect school segregation by comparing the schools that foreign-born and native-born minorities in New York City attend. They find that foreign-born blacks, Hispanics, and Asians tend to be more racially isolated than their native-born counterparts, even after controlling for differences in language skills and income. The heightened isolation is partially linked to the clustering of immigrant students from particular regions or countries within the same schools. How an increase in foreign-born students in a school district will shape racial segregation therefore will depend on the racial composition of the immigrant students as well as their country of origin.
Gentrification: Perspectives of Economists and Planners
Gentrification touches on issues at the core of the fields of urban economics, planning, and geography. This article aims to look across disciplines and review the literature on gentrification. It begins by discussing how gentrification is defined and understood by different researchers and assessing its importance or prevalence over time. It then contrasts the theoretical approaches used to explain the causes of gentrification in different fields. It focuses on different models used by economists on the one hand and planners, on the other. The economic models of neighborhood change focus more on market forces and individual choices, while planning and geography models emphasize class and politics. Following this, the article reviews the literature on the consequences of gentrification, summarizing the empirical evidence. Finally, it highlights what is still unknown about gentrification, in terms of the process and drivers, its consequences, and the role it might play in future urban revitalization.
Exploring Changes in Low-Income Neighborhoods in the 1990s
While there has been much talk of the resurgence of lower-income urban neighborhoods in the United States over the past ten to fifteen years, there has been surprisingly little empirical examination of the extent and nature of the phenomenon. Our chapter aims to address these key questions. In the first half, we undertake a broad empirical investigation of income changes in low-income neighborhoods in U.S. cities during the 1990s, comparing them to the changes that occurred during the two previous decades. In the second half of the chapter, we explore some reasons why the fortunes of lower-income urban neighborhoods improved during the 1990s.
The American Mortgage System: Crisis and Reform
The Secondary Mortgage Market for Housing Finance in the United States: A Brief Overview
Understanding both the current problems in the secondary market and the proposed solutions requires an understanding of the role of the secondary mortgage market in U.S. housing finance. In this chapter, the authors focus in particular on the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which for decades were the largest players in the U.S. system. The authors conclude that while the described weaknesses within the chapter are important, and the structure of the GSE’s should surely be improved, it would be a mistake to assume that simply reforming the GSEs, without making significant reforms to the private-label market, would prevent another crisis.
The Community Reinvestment Act: Evaluating Past Performance and Reviewing Options for Reform
The passage of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) in 1977 set in motion a bold experiment that has yet to achieve its full potential. This chapter analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of implementation of the CRA over the last 33 years and provides potential directions for reform, one of which recommends that the Obama administration designate one agency to take the lead and give the agency a tight timetable, sufficient staffing and analytic resources, and the authority to resolve disputes. While reform may also involve legislation, it is important to make sure that it does not become overly prescriptive and stifle innovation. The banking world will continue to evolve, as will the best ideas on how to revitalize and strengthen communities.
Improving U.S. Housing Finance Through Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: A Framework for Evaluating Alternatives
This chapter lays out criteria for evaluating proposals for reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The authors introduce the basic goals of a healthy secondary market for both the single-family and multi-family markets, which include access to liquid credit markets nationwide, countercyclical stability and availability of safe products that are reasonably priced and clearly understood by borrowers and investors.The authors also offer a framework that will help describe and understand the different proposals for reform and how variants of Fannie and Freddie might fit into that picture. As federal government officials contemplate the future of these two entities, the authors hope that this chapter offers a useful framework to use in evaluating the alternative proposals.
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.