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.
21st Century SROs: Can Small Housing Units Help Meet the Need for Affordable Housing in New York City?
Single-room occupancy housing (SROs) used to be a readily available affordable housing type in New York City. During the second half of the 20th century, many SROs came to serve as housing of last resort, and mounting criticism of SROs led to laws banning their construction and discouraging their operation. Today, New York City faces a significant housing affordability crisis. In this context, it is worth considering whether the city needs an updated housing model that helps meet the need SROs filled in the last century. Here we analyze the benefits, risks, and challenges of reintroducing small housing units (self-contained micro units and efficiency units with shared facilities) in order to shed light on whether and how a new small-unit model could help meet the demand for affordable housing in the city today.
31 Flavors of Inclusionary Zoning: Comparing Policies From San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Suburban Boston
As housing costs have risen in the U.S. and federal subsidies for affordable housing programs have declined, inclusionary zoning (IZ) has become an increasingly popular local policy for producing low-income housing without direct public subsidy. The structure of IZ policies can vary in a number of ways; consequently, there is not yet a consensus about what policies constitute “true” inclusionary zoning. In this paper we compare the ways in which IZ programs have been structured in three regions in which it is relatively widespread and long-standing. Our results demonstrate that IZ programs are highly complex and exhibit considerable variation in their structures and outcomes. In the San Francisco Bay Area, IZ programs tend to be mandatory and apply broadly across locations and structure types, but attempt to soften potential negative impacts with cost offsets and alternatives to on-site construction. In the Washington DC area, most IZ programs are also mandatory, but have broader exemptions for small developments and low-density housing types. IZ programs in the Suburban Boston area exhibit the most withinregion heterogeneity. In this area, IZ is more likely to be voluntary and to apply only to a narrow range of developments, such as multifamily or age-restricted housing, or within certain zoning districts. The amount of affordable housing produced under IZ varies considerably, both within and across the regions. The flexibility of IZ allows planners to create a program that accommodates local policy goals, housing market conditions and political circumstances.
A Canary in the Mortgage Market? Why the Recent FHA and GSE Loan Limit Reductions Deserve Attention
Explores the potential implications of recent reductions in the maximum loan size that can be guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Government-Sponsored Enterprises or GSEs), or insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) in many parts of the country. The changes, which went into effect on Oct. 1, 2011, represent the first step in a long-term policy goal to reduce the federal government’s current role in the mortgage system. They will also be a significant test of the private mortgage finance system.
A Pilot Community Health Worker Program in Subsidized Housing: The Health + Housing Project
We examine the implementation of a community health worker (CHW) program in subsidized housing, describe needs identified and priorities set by residents, and summarize participant-reported outcomes.
A Renter Safety Net: A Call for Federal Emergency Rental Assistance
For decades, escalating housing costs have outpaced income growth for middle- and lower-income earners. As a result, millions of American households struggle to accumulate a savings buffer with the little income they have leftover after paying rent, and are therefore left vulnerable to evictions or forced moves when unexpected financial shocks occur. In this chapter, authors Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, Amy Ganz, Deputy Director of the Economic Strategy Group, and Katherine O’Regan, Professor of Public Policy and Planning at NYU Wagner and Faculty Director of the NYU Furman Center, document the costly externalities that such housing instability poses and propose the creation of a Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to provide one-time, short-term financial help to low-income renters who face unexpected financial shocks.
Accessibility of America’s Housing Stock: Analysis of the 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS)
The American Housing Survey (AHS) is the most comprehensive national housing survey in the United States. Since 2009, AHS has included six core disability questions used in the American Community Survey. The questions address hearing, visual, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living difficulties for each household member. For 2011, AHS added a topical module on accessibility. The module asked about the presence of accessibility features in housing units, including wheelchair accessibility features, and whether the accessibility features were used or not. Together, these data provide an unprecedented opportunity to examine the accessibility of the U.S. housing stock and to ask whether people with disabilities reside in accessible homes.
In this report, the authors present summary measures of housing accessibility based on the 2011 AHS. To develop these summary measures, they examined United States (U.S.) and international standards and regulations regarding housing accessibility, reviewed the relevant literature, and conducted interviews with a set of disability and housing design experts. These interviews are further described in appendix A. Based on these summary measures, the authors describe how accessibility varies by housing market characteristics as well as resident characteristics such as age, disability status, and income. They also present evidence on the relationship between the need for and availability of accessible housing units, taking affordability of accessible units into account.
Advancing Choice in the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Source of Income Protections and Locational Outcomes
The housing choice voucher program, the largest low-income housing subsidy program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), provides assistance to over 5 million people in approximately 2.3 million households. But, one of the program’s elusive goals is to provide more - and better - locational choices for recipient households. Surveying data between 2007 and 2017, this paper evaluates how source of income laws in 31 jurisdictions impact where voucher holders live. These laws prohibit discrimination based on the source of income a tenant uses to pay rent. The authors find consistent evidence that adopting such laws result in greater neighborhood improvements among existing voucher holders who move. More specifically, voucher holders who move after a law has been enacted live in areas with lower poverty rates and more racially diverse populations.
Advancing Racial Equity in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
The NYU Furman Center, together with the Housing Initiative at Penn and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, recently co-authored a report describing these “first-generation” COVID rental assistance programs, based on a survey of 220 programs across the country. This brief draws upon the analysis from that survey, along with additional document review and interviews with selected program administrators. Based on these sources, the brief highlights several lessons about strategies states and localities can use to design and implement more equitable emergency rental assistance programs.
Airbnb Usage Across New York City Neighborhoods: Geographic Patterns and Regulatory Implications
This paper offers new empirical evidence about actual Airbnb usage patterns and how they vary across neighborhoods in New York City. We combine unique, census-tract level data from Airbnb with neighborhood asking rent data from Zillow and administrative, census, and social media data on neighborhoods. We find that as usage has grown over time, Airbnb listings have become more geographically dispersed, although centrality remains an important predictor of listing location. Neighborhoods with more modest median household incomes have also grown in popularity, and disproportionately feature “private room” listings (compared to “entire home” listings). We find that compared to long-term rentals, short-term rentals do not appear to be as profitable as many assume, and they have become relatively less profitable over our time period. Additionally, short-term rentals appear most profitable relative to long-term rentals in outlying, middle-income neighborhoods. Our findings contribute to an ongoing regulatory conversation catalyzed by the rapid growth in the short-term rental market, and we conclude by bringing an economic lens to varying approaches proposed to target and address externalities that may arise in this market.