Publications

  • Key Findings on the Affordability of Rental Housing from New York City’s HVS 2008

    Every three years, the U.S. Census Bureau releases the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey (HVS), which assesses changes in various aspects of New York City’s housing and neighborhoods. The primary goal of the survey is to estimate the rental vacancy rate in the City, but the survey also provides valuable insight into other trends in the housing stock. However, the data are released in a format that is hard to understand without statistical software. In order to make the findings available to a wider audience, we have analyzed the data about New York City’s neighborhoods and compiled this summary of noteworthy trends.

  • Siting, Spillovers, and Segregation: A Re-examination of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program

    As of the end of 2005, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program had allocated $7.5 billion in federal tax credits and supported the development of more than 1.5 million units. A growing number of advocates and observers worry that the LIHTC program, by failing to monitor the siting of developments and, more directly, by giving priority to developers building housing in  high-poverty areas, is furthering poverty and racial concentration. Yet, many community development organizations see the tax credit program as a central tool in their efforts to revitalize these high-poverty, urban neighborhoods. In this chapter, the authors try to inject some empirical evidence into this debate by examining the extent to which the tax credit program may have contributed to poverty concentration as well as to neighborhood revitalization.

  • Welcome to the Neighborhood: What can Regional Science Contribute to the Study of Neighborhoods?

    In this paper the authors argue that neighborhoods are highly relevant for the types of issues at the heart of regional science. First, residential and economic activity takes place in particular locations, and particular neighborhoods. Many attributes of those neighborhood environments matter for this activity, from the physical amenities, to the quality of the public and private services received. Second, those neighborhoods vary in their placement in the larger region and this broader arrangement of neighborhoods is particularly important for location choices, commuting behavior and travel patterns. Third, sorting across these neighborhoods by race and income may well matter for educational and labor market outcomes, important components of a region's overall economic activity. For each of these areas we suggest a series of unanswered questions that would benefit from more attention. Focused on neighborhood characteristics themselves, there are important gaps in our understanding of how neighborhoods change - the causes and the consequences. In terms of the overall pattern of neighborhoods and resulting commuting patterns, this connects directly to current concerns about environmental sustainability and there is much need for research relevant to policy makers. And in terms of segregation and sorting across neighborhoods, work is needed on better spatial measures. In addition, housing market causes and consequences for local economic activity are under researched. The authors expand on each of these, finishing with some suggestions on how newly available data, with improved spatial identifiers, may enable regional scientists to answer some of these research questions.

  • No Renters in My Suburban Backyard: Land Use Regulation and Rental Housing

    Academics and policymakers have argued that the ability of low- and moderate-income families to move into desirable suburban areas is constrained by the high cost of housing. Local zoning and other forms of land use regulation are believed to contribute to increased housing prices by reducing supply and increasing the size of new housing. Suburban restrictions on rental housing are particularly likely to reduce mobility for low-income families. In this paper, I employ an instrumental variables approach to examine the effects of zoning on the quantity and price of rental housing in Massachusetts, using historical municipal characteristics to instrument for current regulations. Results suggest that communities with more restrictive zoning issue significantly fewer building permits for multifamily housing but provide only weak evidence of the effects of regulations on rents. The lack of effects on rents may reflect the low level of multifamily development, while analysis is complicated by development of subsidized housing under the state’s affordable housing law.

  • Tenants: Innocent Victims of the Nation’s Foreclosure Crisis

    Renters are innocent victims of the foreclosure crisis, losing their homes through no fault of their own when their landlord goes into foreclosure. Until lately, the national discussion on the foreclosure crisis largely focused on owner-occupied homes, but recent analysis reveals that the crisis is significantly impacting renters across the country. New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy found that in New York City, well over half of all foreclosure filings in 2007 were on two to four family or multi-family buildings, and a growing body of data and anecdotal evidence indicates that the problem is not isolated to New York City; heart wrenching stories of renters losing their homes have appeared in newspapers nationwide.

  • Crime and U.S. Cities: Recent Patterns and Implications

    For most of the twentieth century, U.S. cities – and their high-poverty neighborhoods in particular—were viewed as dangerous, crime-ridden places that middle class, mobile (and typically white) households avoided, fueling suburbanization. While some pundits and policy analysts bemoaned this urban flight, others voiced concern over the potential impact of crime-ridden environments on the urban residents who were left behind. In the past decade or so, the media has instead highlighted the dramatic reductions in crime taking place in many large cities. In this paper we explore these crime reductions and their implications for urban environments.

  • Immigration and Urban Schools: The Dynamics of Demographic Change in the Nation’s Largest School District

    The authors use a rich data set on New York City public elementary schools to explore how changes in immigrant representation have played out at the school level, providing a set of stylistic facts about the magnitude and nature of demographic changes in urban schools. They find that while the city experienced an overall increase in its immigrant representation over the 5 years studied, its elementary schools did not. Although the average school experienced little change during this period, a significant minority of schools saw sizable shifts. The change does not mirror the White flight and ‘tipping’ associated with desegregation but rather suggests a tendency to stabilize, with declines in immigrant enrollments concentrated in schools with larger immigrant populations at the outset. The authors also find that changes in the immigrant shares influence the composition of the school’s students, and that overall school demographic changes do not mirror grade-level changes within schools.

  • Transforming Foreclosed Properties into Community Assets

    Last May, the Furman Center, with support from the Ford Foundation, convened leading housing researchers, policymakers, lenders, and nonprofit housing organizations to discuss how best to leverage public and private resources to reuse foreclosed properties in a manner that helps stabilize neighborhoods. The Furman Center has produced a White Paper, Transforming Foreclosed Properties into Community Assets, that documents that roundtable conversation, summarizes much of the discussion’s substance, and includes links to resources—ranging from existing research papers on related topics to listings of REO properties—that we hope will be useful to practitioners, researchers and policymakers involved in neighborhood stabilization projects.

  • Neighborhood Effects of Concentrated Mortgage Foreclosures

    As the national mortgage crisis has worsened, an increasing number of communities are facing declining housing prices and high rates of foreclosure. Central to the call for government intervention in this crisis is the claim that foreclosures not only hurt those who are losing their homes to foreclosure, but also harm neighbors by reducing the value of nearby properties and in turn, reducing local governments’ tax bases. The extent to which foreclosures do in fact drive down neighboring property values has become a crucial question for policy-makers. In this paper, we use a unique dataset on property sales and foreclosure filings in New York City from 2000 to 2005 to identify the effects of foreclosure starts on housing prices in the surrounding neighborhood. Regression results suggest that above some threshold, proximity to properties in foreclosure is associated with lower sales prices. The magnitude of the price discount increases with the number of properties in foreclosure, but not in a linear relationship.

  • Neighbors and Neighborhoods

    The concept of neighborhood has long been a topic of popular discourse and a subject of academic interest. Despite this attention, there is little agreement on what the term ‘neighborhood’ means.