This study examines the external effects of subsidized housing built in New York City during the late 1980s and 1990s. The paper finds significant and sustained benefits to the surrounding neighborhood. Neighborhood benefits increase with project size and decrease with distance from the project sites. A simple cost-benefit analysis suggests that New York City’s housing investments delivered a tax benefit to the city that exceeded the cost of the city subsidies provided.
The contemporary assumption is that the production of subsidized housing, if anything, accelerates neighborhood decline – “there goes the neighborhood” is the common refrain. Partially as a result, we’ve seen the policy pendulum swing away from place-based housing investment towards demand-side housing programs, such as housing vouchers. Through multiple studies, the Furman Center has consistently found significant, positive impacts from subsidized housing investment, suggesting that publicly-funded housing investments aimed at distressed urban properties can deliver significant benefits to the surrounding community.