Publications

  • Does City-Subsidized Owner-Occupied Housing Improve School Quality? Evidence from New York City

    Policymakers have long promoted homeownership as a mechanism for community change. While previous studies have shown a positive association between homeownership and education at the individual level, ours is the first to systematically report on the effect of subsidized, owner-occupied housing on local schools. This New York City-focused analysis suggests that investments in subsidized, owner-occupied housing are associated with an increase in standardized reading and math scores at local schools, whereas similar investments in rental housing are not associated with any improvement in school quality.  Subsidized, owner-occupied housing has also changed the demographic characteristics of local schools in New York City, increasing the percentage of white students and decreasing the percentage eligible for free lunch.

  • Does Federally Subsidized Rental Housing Depress Neighborhood Property Values?

    Few communities welcome subsidized housing, with one of the most commonly voiced fears being reductions in property values. Yet there is little empirical evidence that subsidized housing depresses neighborhood property values. This paper estimates and compares the neighborhood impacts of a broad range of federally-subsidized, rental housing programs, using rich data for New York City and a difference-in-difference specification of a hedonic regression model.

  • Does Gentrification Displace Poor Children? New Evidence from New York City Medicaid Data

    This paper by Ingrid Gould Ellen, Sherry Glied, and Kacie Dragan examines gentrification’s impact on the displacement of low-income families. While many see this relationship as causal, existing quantitative evidence is lacking, partly due to limited data and challenges in measurement. This paper examines the relationship between the frequency and distance of low-income families’ residential moves, as well as the housing and neighborhood conditions in which they live. Using longitudinal New York City Medicaid records, the authors track the movement and compare the outcomes of low-income children from 2009 through 2015, a seven-year period in which the city experienced high levels of gentrification, distinguishing between children who move and those that remain in place.

  • Does Losing Your Home Mean Losing Your School?:  Effects of Foreclosures on the School Mobility of Children

    In the last few years, millions of homes around the country have entered foreclosure, pushing many families out of their homes and potentially forcing their children to move to new schools. Unfortunately, despite considerable attention to the causes and consequences of mortgage defaults, we understand little about the distribution and severity of these impacts on school children. This paper takes a step toward filling that gap through studying how foreclosures in New York City affect the mobility of public school children across schools. A significant body of research suggests that, in general, switching schools is costly for students, though the magnitude of the effect depends critically on the nature of the move and the quality of the origin and destination schools.

  • Does Neighborhood Matter? Assessing Recent Evidence

    This article synthesizes findings from a wide range of empirical research into how neighborhoods affect families and children. It lays out a conceptual framework for understanding how neighborhoods may affect people at different life stages. It then identifies methodological challenges, summarizes past research findings, and suggests priorities for future work.

  • Does segregation matter for Latinos?

    We estimate the effects of residential racial segregation on socio-economic outcomes for native-born Latino young adults over the past three decades. Using individual public use micro-data samples from the Census and a novel instrumental variable, we find that higher levels of metropolitan area segregation have negative effects on Latino young adults’ likelihood of being either employed or in school, on the likelihood of working in a professional occupation, and on income. 

  • 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.

  • Essay: Sticky Seconds—The Problems Second Liens Pose to the Resolution of Distressed Mortgages

    To better understand whether and how second liens might prevent efficient resolutions of borrower distress and to assess how second lien holders could be encouraged to cooperate with efficient resolutions without undermining the financial interests of the banks, we reviewed existing data and research, as well as debates among both academics and industry experts about the role second liens might be playing in slowing the recovery of the housing market. This article reports the results of our research and the roundtable discussion. It first explores what we know about the prevalence and delinquency rates of different types of second liens, the extent to which banks are exposed to losses on the liens, and the extent to which the banks already have accounted for those expected losses. It then reviews the various reasons that second liens have interfered with the efficient resolution of distressed mortgages, and documents advances that recently have been made in addressing those problems. Finally, the article examines the most promising proposals for reducing the transaction costs and frictions that are behind many of the current problems second liens are posing, as well as proposals to prevent similar problems from arising in the future. We focus our analysis of solutions on programs to remove barriers to greater coordination between first and second lien holders, rather than on the incentive approaches that have already been attempted.

  • 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.

  • 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.