Publications

  • Research Area: Housing Finance ×
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  • 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. 

  • Maintenance and Investments in Small Rental Properties: Findings from New York City and Baltimore

    Nearly half of all poor, urban renters in the United States live in rental buildings of fewer than four units, and such buildings make up nearly half our nation’s rental housing stock. Yet small rental properties remain largely overlooked by researchers. We present two reports—from New York City and Baltimore—both providing suggestive evidence, drawn from a variety of sources, about the characteristics of small rental housing. We find that while small buildings offer lower rents and play a crucial role in housing low-income renters, these lower rents are largely explained by neighborhood location. Ownership matters, however. In New York, lower rents are associated with small buildings with resident landlords. Further, we also find better unit conditions in small rental buildings when compared to most larger properties, especially in small buildings with resident landlords. In Baltimore, we find that smaller-scale “mom-and-pop” owners dominate the small rental property market, but that the share of larger-scale owners increases in higher poverty areas of the city. The properties owned by these larger-scale owners receive fewer housing code violations and that these owners appear to invest more frequently in major improvements to their properties.

  • Quarterly Housing Update: 2nd Quarter 2013

    Manhattan sales prices have surpassed their pre-recession peak, according to the Furman Center’s New York City 2013 Quarterly Housing Update: 2nd Quarter. But, despite the rise in residential sales prices and volume, foreclosure filings across New York City have continued to grow. 

  • NYC Housing 10 Issues Series #5: Moderate-Income Household Subsidy

    Housing is a substantial expense for New Yorkers, and has grown even less affordable in the last decade. As housing affordability becomes more of a strain for moderate- and middle-income households, many worry that those households might choose to leave the city altogether, which could undermine the city’s diversity and vitality. Moderate- and middle-income households are often not served by existing rental subsidies, though they may benefit from such a program. This brief examines the feasibility of a moderate-income housing subsidy.

    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 #4: City Pension Funds

    In the 2013 NYC mayoral election, some candidates suggested tapping the city pension funds as a way to maintain or increase the funding available to create and preserve affordable housing. The pension funds of New York City have some $137 billion in assets and might appear to be a valuable source of capital. However, the law limits the potential uses of these funds and restricts the mayor’s ability to control their use. This brief outlines the tradeoffs of using city pension funds as a potential source of capital to fund affordable housing efforts, as well as the severe limits on their use and the mayor's control of that money. 

    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 #2: Permanent Affordability

    City, state, and federal governments help address the shortage of affordable housing by subsidizing the development, rehabilitation, and operation of affordable units. A permanent affordability policy for government-financed programs in New York City would potentially have significant effects on tenants, the location of affordable housing, and on the amount and type of affordable housing that is developed in the future. This brief discusses the policy implications if the next mayor were to require developers to permanently maintain the affordability of units developed with public subsidies.

    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 #9: 421-a Property Tax Benefit

    Offering tax breaks to real estate developers may incentivize the construction or preservation of affordable housing, but such subsidies can also deprive the city of much-needed revenue. As the city faces significant budgetary challenges, policymakers must ensure that tax subsidy programs like 421-a are structured as efficiently as possible. The NYC mayor could offer to cap the property tax on properties with the 421-a tax exemption who maintain 20 percent of their units as affordable, but this may not maximize city property tax revenue while remaining attractive to property owners. This brief explores the tradeoffs of such a program.

    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.

  • Shifting the Burden

    Some of New York City’s most valuable properties in its highest-cost neighborhoods are significantly and persistently undervalued, according to Shifting the Burden. The report identifies 50 individual co-ops in 46 buildings that were sold in 2012 for more than the New York City Department of Finance’s estimate of the market value of the entire building. This undervaluation has significant consequences for the distribution of tax burdens in New York City.

  • Quarterly Housing Update 2013: 1st Quarter

    Indicators of new housing development look promising, according to the Furman Center’s New York City 2013 Quarterly Housing Update: 1st Quarter. Citywide, the number of units authorized by new residential building permits increased to its highest point since late 2008. This is the fourth consecutive quarter with more than 2,000 new units approved for development in New York City.