Publications

  • Housing Production Subsidies and Neighborhood Revitalization: New York City’s Ten Year Capital

    A perennial question in housing policy concerns the form that housing assistance should take. Although some argue that housing assistance should be thought of as a form of income support and advocate direct cash grants to needy households, others favor earmarked assistance—but they differ over whether subsidies should be given to the recipients as vouchers or to developers as production subsidies.

  • Housing, Neighborhoods, and Children’s Health

    In theory, improving low-income families’ housing and neighborhoods could also improve their children’s health, through any number of mechanisms. For example, less exposure to environmental toxins could prevent diseases such as asthma; a safer, less violent neighborhood could improve health by reducing the chances of injury and death, and by easing the burden of stress; and a more walkable neighborhood with better playgrounds could encourage children to exercise, making them less likely to become obese. Yet although neighborhood improvement policies generally achieve their immediate goals— investments in playgrounds create playgrounds, for example—Ingrid Gould Ellen and Sherry Glied find that many of these policies don’t show a strong effect on poor children’s health. One problem is that neighborhood improvements may price low-income families out of the very neighborhoods that have been improved, as new amenities draw more affluent families, causing rents and home prices to rise. Policy makers, say Ellen and Glied, should carefully consider how neighborhood improvements may affect affordability, a calculus that is likely to favor policies with clear and substantial benefits for low-income children, such as those that reduce neighborhood violence. Housing subsidies can help families either cope with rising costs or move to more affluent neighborhoods. Unfortunately, demonstration programs that help families move to better neighborhoods have had only limited effects on children’s health, possibly because such transitions can be stressful. And because subsidies go to relatively few low-income families, the presence of subsidies may itself drive up housing costs, placing an extra burden on the majority of families that don’t receive them. Ellen and Glied suggest that policy makers consider whether granting smaller subsidies to more families would be a more effective way to use these funds.

  • Housing, Neighborhoods, and Opportunity: The Location of New York City’s Subsidized Affordable Housing

    This report examines changes in the location and neighborhood characteristics of subsidized rental housing in New York City. The study shows that the distribution of subsidized rental units across New York City’s neighborhoods changed significantly between 2002 and 2011, not just as a result of new development, but also because of differential opt-out rates across neighborhoods. As a result, the city is losing affordable housing in the neighborhoods with the highest quality schools, lowest crime rates, and greatest access to jobs. Released in conjuction with the report, the Subsidized Housing Information Project (SHIP) is an online, searchable database of privately-owned, subsidized rental housing in New York City. View the press release or view the NYU Furman Center's infographic, New York City's Opt-Out Outlook

  • 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.

  • How Do Small Area FMRs Affect the Location and Number of Units Affordable to Voucher Holders?

    This brief explores how the location and number of homes affordable to voucher holders will change in the 24 metro areas mandated by HUD to adopt Small Area Fair Market Rents (“Small Area FMRs”). The change to Small Area FMR—a more localized rent measures as a determinant of subsidy standards—is designed to allow housing choice voucher holders to rent homes in a wider variety of areas. The analysis finds that switching to Small Area FMRs would open up options for voucher holders in high-rent ZIP Codes while reducing them in low-rent ZIP Codes. In addition, the aggregate number of units affordable to voucher holders in these 24 metros would increase with the use of Small Area FMRs.  

  • How Have Recent Rezonings Affected the City’s Ability to Grow?

    How Have Recent Rezonings Affected the City’s Ability to Grow? is the first comprehensive statistical analysis of the City’s rezoning strategy. The report examines the net impact of the 76 rezonings initiated by the City between 2003 and 2007.  It finds that, of the 188,000 rezoned lots citywide, 86% were rezoned to reduce or limit new development through either a downzoning or a contextual-only rezoning.  Nevertheless, the 14% of lots that were upzoned resulted in a net gain of 100 million square feet of new capacity citywide. The report explores the likelihood that this new capacity will be developed for residential use, and examines the characteristics of neighborhoods that gained new capacity and of those that lost capacity.

  • How Integrated Did We Become During the 1990s?

    Although levels of residential segregation remain undeniably high, this emphasis on segregation can obscure the fact that integrated communities do exist and, as one of the key findings here demonstrate, are becoming more, not less, common.

  • How Low Income Neighborhoods Change: Entry, Exit, and Enhancement

    The 1990s were a decade of economic improvement for low-income neighborhoods.  The number of high-poverty neighborhoods declined (Jargowsky, 2003), and the number of low-income neighborhoods experiencing a gain in average income greatly exceeded those experiencing a decline. In this study we have three research questions focused on neighborhoods that gain economically.  First, do we indeed find evidence of displacement, particularly among those with fewest resources?  Second, what are the sources of neighborhood income change? Are the sole sources of change selective entry and exit, or does incumbent upgrading also play a role?  And finally, what other changes accompany neighborhood income gains?

  • How New York Housing Policies Are Different—and Maybe Why

    This chapter describes New York's housing policies, exploring how and why they differ from those in Los Angeles and other large cities, and whether they have shaped how New York's housing market has weathered the recent downturn. The policies considered are public housing, in rem properties, other subsidized housing, rent control, housing allowances, city capital subsidies for construction and rehabilitation, special needs housing, local tax structures, and building codes. The chapter is organized as follows. Section I describes the city's housing policies and contrasts them with those in Los Angeles and other large cities in the U.S. Section II compares how the housing markets in New York and Los Angeles have fared during the recent downturn and considers whether differences in policies have shaped differences in outcomes. Section III explores some likely explanations for New York's set of housing policies, while the final section concludes.

  • How NYCHA Preserves Diversity in New York’s Changing Neighborhoods

    A new fact brief published by the NYU Furman Center outlines the critical role that the public housing plays in preserving racial, ethnic, and economic diversity in the city’s gentrifying and higher-income neighborhoods. The brief builds on previous work by the NYU Furman Center outlining NYCHA’s outsized role in housing the lowest-income New Yorkers. That crucial role in the affordable housing landscape combined with the geographic distribution of public housing developments in gentrifying neighborhoods means that many of the city’s neighborhoods owe their diversity to NYCHA’s public housing developments.