Publications

  • 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.

  • 15 Years of Research, Analysis and Insight

    In celebration of our 15th year, the Furman Center assembled a report taking stock of our accomplishments and outlining a plan for the future to ensure that we remain a distinctive and trusted voice at the forefront of academic and public policy debates.

  • Creating a Metric of Educational Opportunities for Assisted Households

    The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s strategic plan identifies the use of “housing as a platform for improving quality of life” as one of its five strategic goals. It further establishes a sub-goal to improve educational outcomes and early learning and development for children in HUD-assisted housing. This paper is intended to advise HUD about how to use readily available data to create a metric for school quality. This metric is the measure of success in providing “access to schools scores at or above the local average” for children in assisted households. The researchers recommend a ratio that compares the test scores of the elementary schools nearest subsidized households to the test scores of other schools in that same county or metropolitan area, with perhaps a comparison to the schools nearest other renters or low-income households. Using this local-comparison ratio can overcome differences in state methodologies for evaluating schools, differences in homeownership rates across metropolitan areas, and differences in income levels. This score will allow HUD to identify metropolitan areas to target for mobility efforts and to track progress over time.

  • Minimum parking requirements and housing affordability in New York City

    Many cities throughout the United States require developers of new residential construction to provide a minimum number of accompanying off-street parking spaces. However, critics argue that these requirements increase housing costs by bundling an oversupply of parking with new housing and by reducing the number of units developers could otherwise fit on a given lot. In this article, we explore the theoretical objections to minimum parking requirements and the limited empirical literature. We then use lot-level data and GIS to analyze parking requirements in New York City to determine to what extent they are already effectively sensitive to transit proximity. Finally, we examine developer response to parking requirements by comparing the number of spaces that are actually built to the number required by applicable zoning law. Our results indicate that the per-unit parking requirement in New York is, on average, lower in areas near rail transit stations, but the required number of spaces per square foot of lot area is higher, on average, in transit accessible areas. We also find that by and large, developers tend to build only the bare minimum of parking required by zoning, suggesting that the minimum parking requirements are binding for developers, as argued by critics, and that developers do not simply build parking out of perceived marked need. Our results raise the possibility that even in cities with complex and tailored parking requirements, there is room to tie the requirements more closely to contextual factors. Further, such changes are likely to result in fewer parking spaces from residential developers.

  • How do New York City’s Recent Rezonings Align With its Goals for Park Accessibility?

    In 2007, New York City adopted a long-term sustainability plan that announced a goal of ensuring that almost every New Yorker lives within a ten minute walk of a park of substantial size. At the same time, policymakers are rewriting the City’s land use map through an unprecedented series of neighborhood level rezonings that involve changing the use type and residential capacity of affected lots or groups of lots. Despite the confluence of these interventions, no research has analyzed how the rezonings interact with the City’s park infrastructure, and specifically, whether residential capacity changes in areas close to parks differ from those in areas further away. In this research, we employ a database of every tax lot in New York City to investigate how well the City-initiated rezonings correlate with the goal of providing New Yorkers with good access to the City’s parks. Our results indicate a mixed picture; while most ‘upzoned’ lots (lots where residential capacity was added) were near parks, we also find that the majority of ‘downzoned’ lots (lots where residential capacity was reduced) were also close to parks. The net impact of these rezonings was a modest increase in residential capacity for the City as a whole, but the increases were disproportionately focused in areas further from parks.

  • New York City Quarterly Housing Update 2010: 3rd Quarter

    In an analysis of third quarter housing indicators, the Furman Center finds that home sales declined between the second to third quarter of 2010, but the foreclosure crisis appears to be slowing citywide. The Quarterly Housing Update, which uses six key indicators of housing market performance from a variety of data sources, is the only New York City housing report to incorporate sales data, development indicators, and foreclosures. It also presents a repeat sales index for each borough to capture price appreciation while controlling for housing quality.

  • Crime and Urban Flight Revisited: The Effect of the 1990s Drop in Crime on Cities

    For most of the twentieth century, concerns about safety and high crime rates have beset U.S. cities. Researchers and policymakers pointed to these high urban crime rates as one of the chief ‘urban blights’ from which middle class, mobile (and typically white) households fled during the post-War period, fueling suburbanization. But this picture changed dramatically in the 1990s, a decade during which the crime rate in the U.S. fell by a remarkable thirty percent, and crime rates in many U.S. cities declined even further. This paper builds on the ‘flight from blight’ literature, and considers what effect (if any) the 1990s drop in crime rates had on urban population changes.

  • Mortgage Lending During the Great Recession: HMDA 2009

    While home purchase mortgage lending declined throughout the recession, new research released by the Furman Center finds that ending to low and moderate income homebuyers actually increased in 2009, as did the number of new mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veteran’s Administration (VA).  The new data brief, Mortgage Lending During the Great Recession: HMDA 2009, finds that 16 percent of the 2009 New York City home purchase mortgages were FHA/VA-backed loans. By comparison, those type of loans accounted for less than one percent of home mortgage loans issued from 2005 to 2007.

  • Kids and Foreclosures: New York City

    While researchers have noted the deleterious effects of foreclosure on surrounding properties and neighborhoods, little is known about the effects of foreclosure on children. This report by researchers at New York University’s Institute for Education and Social Policy (IESP) and Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy begins to address the issue by estimating the number of students in New York City affected by the current foreclosure crisis.

  • How to House the Homeless

    Homelessness is one of the most troubling and persistent social problems in the United States, yet experts can neither agree on its root causes nor on how to eradicate it. Is homelessness the result of individual life conditions, such as poverty, addiction, or mental illness, or is there simply not enough affordable housing? And which services are the most successful? In How to House the Homeless, editors Ingrid Gould Ellen and Brendan O’Flaherty propose that the answers entail rethinking how housing markets operate and developing more efficient interventions in existing service programs. The book critically reassesses where we are now, analyzes the most promising policies and programs going forward, and offers a new agenda for future research.