Publications

  • NYC Housing 10 Issues Series #8: Priority for Homeless Families

    In 2013, the homeless population in New York City had reached its highest level since the Great Depression. While the city and state adopted a variety of strategies to house the homeless, the growth of the population shows that much more needed to be done to assist homeless households seeking to move from shelter to permanent housing. The incoming NYC mayor would need to address the growing homeless census and consider whether to allow homeless families to move to the top of the waiting list for housing vouchers or public housing. This brief outlines the tradoffs of such a policy to address homelessness.

    The #NYChousing series, published in 2013 prior to the New York City mayoral election, identified 10 key affordable housing issues that were likely to confront the next mayor of New York City. The series aimed to inform the public about the policy tradeoffs by providing an objective analysis of the pros, cons, and questions related to key housing issues facing New York City. How the incoming New York City mayor would choose address the city's housing challenges in an environment of increasing needs, declining federal support, and a strengthening real estate market would have an enormous effect on the livability, diversity, and character of the city.

  • NYC Housing 10 Issues Series #7: NYCHA Land Lease

    The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is the largest provider of affordable housing in New York City, currently housing roughly five percent of the city’s population. The agency is facing dire financial shortfalls, however, that threaten the long-term viability of its stock. NYCHA needs to close its operating and capital budget gaps, and has a limited number of options to do so. This brief explores the tradeoffs of the New York City Housing Authority’s plan to lease its undeveloped land for the construction of market-rate rental housing.

    The #NYChousing series, published in 2013 prior to the New York City mayoral election, identified 10 key affordable housing issues that were likely to confront the next mayor of New York City. The series aimed to inform the public about the policy tradeoffs by providing an objective analysis of the pros, cons, and questions related to key housing issues facing New York City. How the incoming New York City mayor would choose address the city's housing challenges in an environment of increasing needs, declining federal support, and a strengthening real estate market would have an enormous effect on the livability, diversity, and character of the city.

  • 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.

  • Subsidized Housing: A Cross-City Comparison

    The analysis from the 2011 State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report compares federally-subsidized housing programs across the nation’s five most populous cities: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, and Philadelphia. New York City has the largest share of subsidized rental housing of the five cities, due mostly to its large stock of public housing. Over five percent of the city’s housing units in 2008 (almost 180,000 units) were in public housing. In addition to subsidies, more than one million units—nearly half of the rental housing stock—are rent stabilized in New York City.

  • American Murder Mystery Revisited: Do Housing Voucher Households Cause Crime?

    In recent years, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has shifted resources from public housing to the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV or “voucher”) program. There were 2.2 million vouchers nationwide in 2008, compared to 1.2 million public housing units. Although the academic and policy communities have welcomed this shift, community opposition to vouchers can be fierce, due to perceptions that voucher-holders will both reduce property values and heighten crime. Despite the public concerns, however, there is virtually no research that systematically examines the link between the presence of voucher holders in a neighborhood and crime. Our paper uses longitudinal, neighborhood-level crime and voucher utilization data in 10 large U.S. cities over 12 years, and finds voucher-holders moving to a neighborhood does not, in fact, increase crime. We do see, on the other hand, that households with vouchers tend to move to communities when crime rates are rising.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Spillovers and Subsidized Housing: The Impact of Subsidized Rental Housing on Neighborhoods

    Rental housing is increasingly recognized as a vital housing option in the United States. Yet government policies and programs continue to grapple with widespread problems, including affordability, distressed urban neighborhoods, poor-quality housing stock, concentrated poverty, and exposure to health hazards in the home. These challenges can be costly and difficult to address. The time is ripe for fresh, authoritative analysis of this important yet often overlooked sector.

  • Public Housing and Public Schools: How Do Students Living in NYC Public Housing Fare in School?

    This report examines the school performance of children living in NYCHA housing and finds that children living in NYCHA housing perform less well on standardized math and reading tests than other students, even after controlling for the characteristics of the individual students and the schools they attend.

  • 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.