Cities

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods

Mortgage Foreclosures and the Changing Mix of Crime in Micro-neighborhoods
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Published online before print February 20, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0022427815572633

Johanna Lacoe and Ingrid Gould Ellen
02/20/2015

Objectives: The main objectives of the study are to estimate the impact of mortgage foreclosures on the location of criminal activity within a blockface. Drawing on routine activity theory, disorder theory, and social disorganization theory, the study explores potential mechanisms that link foreclosures to crime.

Methods: To estimate the relationship between foreclosures and localized crime, we use detailed foreclosure and crime data at the blockface level in Chicago and a difference-in-difference estimation strategy. Results: Overall, mortgage foreclosures increase crime on blockfaces. Foreclosures have a larger impact on crime that occurs inside residences than on crime in the street. The impact of foreclosures on crime location varies by crime type (violent, property, and public order crime).

Conclusions: The evidence supports the three main theoretical mechanisms that link foreclosure activity to local crime. The investigation of the relationship by crime location suggests that foreclosures change the relative attractiveness of indoor and outdoor locations for crime commission on the blockface.

A Water Availability Intervention in New York City Public Schools: Influence on Youths’ Water and Milk Behaviors

A Water Availability Intervention in New York City Public Schools: Influence on Youths’ Water and Milk Behaviors
American Journal of Public Health, Reviews In Advance (doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302221). Published online ahead of print December 18, 2014.

Brian Elbel, Tod Mijanovich, Courtney Abrams, Jonathan Cantor, Lillian Dunn, Cathy Nonas, Kristin Cappola, Stephen Onufrak, and Sohyun Park
01/05/2015

Objectives. We determined the influence of “water jets” on observed water and milk taking and self-reported fluid consumption in New York City public schools.

Methods. From 2010 to 2011, before and 3 months after water jet installation in 9 schools, we observed water and milk taking in cafeterias (mean 1000 students per school) and surveyed students in grades 5, 8, and 11 (n = 2899) in the 9 schools that received water jets and 10 schools that did not. We performed an observation 1 year after implementation (2011–2012) with a subset of schools. We also interviewed cafeteria workers regarding the intervention.

Results. Three months after implementation we observed a 3-fold increase in water taking (increase of 21.63 events per 100 students; P < .001) and a much smaller decline in milk taking (-6.73 events per 100 students; P = .012), relative to comparison schools. At 1 year, relative to baseline, there was a similar increase in water taking and no decrease in milk taking. Cafeteria workers reported that the water jets were simple to clean and operate.

Conclusions. An environmental intervention in New York City public schools increased water taking and was simple to implement. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print December 18, 2014: e1–e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302221)

Shanghai rising: health improvements as measured by avoidable mortality since 2000

Shanghai rising: health improvements as measured by avoidable mortality since 2000
International Journal of Health Policy Management. 2015, 4(x), 1–6

Gusmano, Michael K., and Victor G. Rodwin, Chunfang Wang, Daniel Weisz, Li Luo, and Fu Hua
12/27/2014

Over the past two decades, Shanghai, the largest megacity in China, has been coping with unprecedented growth of its economy and population while overcoming previous underinvestment in the health system by the central and local governments. We study the evolution of Shanghai’s healthcare system by analyzing “Avoidable Mortality” (AM) – deaths amenable to public health and healthcare interventions, as previously defined in the literature. Based on analysis of mortality data, by cause of death, from the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention, we analyze trends over the period 2000–10 and compare Shanghai’s experience to other mega-city regions – New York, London and Paris. Population health status attributable to public health and healthcare interventions improved dramatically for Shanghai’s population with permanent residency status. The age-adjusted rate of AM, per 1,000 population, dropped from 0.72 to 0.50. The rate of decrease in age-adjusted AM in Shanghai (30%) was comparable to New York City (30%) and Paris (25%), but lower than London (42%). Shanghai’s establishment of the Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention and its upgrading of public health and health services are likely to have contributed to the large decrease in the number and rate of avoidable deaths, which suggests that investments in public health infrastructure and increasing access to health services in megacities – both in China and worldwide – can produce significant mortality declines. Future analysis in Shanghai should investigate inequalities in avoidable deaths and the extent to which these gains have benefitted the significant population of urban migrants who do not have permanent residency status.

Profile of Rent-Stabilized Units and Tenants in New York City

Profile of Rent-Stabilized Units and Tenants in New York City
Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. June 2014 Fact Brief.

NYU Furman Center
06/17/2014

Rent Stabilization is a New York State law that restricts how much rents in certain residential housing units can increase annually. The law generally applies to buildings constructed prior to 1974 that have six or more units, or to buildings that opt into the program in exchange for certain public subsidies. Rent Stabilization protects tenants from sharp increases in rents and protects their right to renew their leases.

In 2011, rent stabilized units comprised nearly one million units of housing in New York City—roughly 45 percent the city’s rental housing stock. Stabilized units house many low-income residents across New York City; roughly 66 percent of tenants living in rent-stabilized units were considered low-income in 2011.

This Fact Brief is an update to the NYU Furman Center’s April 2012 publication, Rent Stabilization in New York City. The data in this brief remain the most recent available from the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey. Data from the 2014 Housing and Vacancy Survey are expected to released next year.

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2013

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2013
Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University

I.G. Ellen et al.
05/28/2014

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2013 report , published annually by the NYU Furman Center, provides a compendium of data and analysis about New York City’s housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life indicators for each borough and the city’s 59 community districts.

The report combines timely and expert analysis of NYU Furman Center researchers with data transparency. It is presented in three parts:

Part 1: Focus on Economic Inequality

Each year, the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods describes, contextualizes, and provides analysis on a pressing and policy-relevant issue affecting New York City. In 2013, the report focuses on economic inequality in New York City, analyzing changes over time in the distribution of the city’s income, economic segregation of city residents, and the neighborhood environments experienced by people of different incomes.

Part 2: City-Wide Analysis

The City-Wide Analysis provides a broad, longitudinal analysis of the New York City's housing and neighborhoods. The chapter is divided into five parts: land use and the built environment; homeowners and their homes; renters and their homes; income and workers; and neighborhood services and conditions.

Part 3: City, Borough, and Community District Data

The data section provides current and historical statistics for over 50 housing, neighborhood, and socioeconomic indicators at the city, borough, and community district levels. It also includes indicator definitions and rankings; methods; and an index of New York City’s Community Districts and Sub-Borough Areas.

Unlocking the Right to Build: Designing a More Flexible System for Transferring Development Rights

Unlocking the Right to Build: Designing a More Flexible System for Transferring Development Rights
Furman Center Policy Brief; March 2014

Vicki Been, John Infranca, Josiah Madar, Jessica Yager
03/19/2014

A new report by the NYU Furman Center details the untapped potential for NYC’s transferable air rights program, a critical tool for high-density housing development in New York City. Using case study examples, the report outlines limitations to the city’s current TDR policies and suggests a policy approach that could unlock millions of square feet of unused air rights to help produce more affordable housing.

The Foreclosure Crisis and Community Development: Exploring the Foreclosed Stock in Hard-Hit Neighborhoods

The Foreclosure Crisis and Community Development: Exploring the Foreclosed Stock in Hard-Hit Neighborhoods
Housing Studies, forthcoming

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Josiah Madar, and Max Weselcouch
03/06/2014

As the foreclosure crisis continues, many communities are faced with a glut of properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are now owned by banks or other mortgage lenders. These properties, referred to as “real estate owned (REO),” often sit vacant for extended periods and, recent studies suggest, depress neighboring property values. They also impose significant costs on local governments, which must try to address the risk of crime, fire, and blight that vacant buildings pose. In addition, many worry that REO properties sold to unscrupulous short-term investors hasten neighborhood decline.

In this article we shed new light on the “REO problem” by studying the stock of REO properties at the neighborhood level in three urban areas: Fulton County, Georgia (which includes Atlanta), Miami-Dade County, Florida, and New York City. Using a combination of longitudinal administrative data sets on foreclosure filings, auction sales, and property transactions provided by local government sources, we identify every property transfer into REO ownership in recent years and all subsequent transfers of these properties. To explore the ongoing neighborhood and community development challenges, we divide census tracts into four groups based on their concentrations of REO properties as of the end of 2011. We then compare these neighborhood types across several dimensions. Because we use a uniform methodology for all three areas, we are also able to compare neighborhood groups across jurisdictions with the metrics we calculate.

We find several neighborhoods in Fulton County and Miami-Dade County with extremely high concentrations of REO properties as of the end of 2011, including some tracts with more than 100 REO properties. In New York City, however, REO concentrations are generally much lower, and no census tract had more than 12 REO properties. In all three jurisdictions, the neighborhoods with relatively high concentrations of REO properties are generally not the most distressed areas of their regions in terms of poverty and unemployment, but are still high-poverty and potentially vulnerable. Moreover, they are disproportionately black, highlighting the uneven impact the foreclosure crisis may be having on communities. Importantly, we find that that the number of REO properties in the hardest-hit neighborhoods of each area was declining as of the end of 2012 (or 2011, our latest year of data in Miami-Dade County), generally in line with the countywide or citywide trend in REO inventories, and that investors did not account for an appreciably higher proportion of purchasers of REO properties in the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Furthermore, few of the properties that were purchased by investors appear to have been “flipped” within a short period. On the other hand, we also find that those REO properties that remained in these cities as of the end of 2012 or 2011 (including those in hard-hit neighborhoods) had been in REO for a longer duration than was typical one year earlier, so the composition of the REO stock may shifting towards more problematic properties. Additionally, in Fulton County’s hardest-hit tracts REO properties made up about 40 percent of all sales in 2012, so were likely still exerting significant downward pressure on housing prices. Finally while the National Stabilization Program (NSP) may be improving neighborhoods in other ways, we find that only a negligible share of the REO sales in the hardest-hit tracts of Fulton and Miami-Dade Counties in 2010 and 2011 were to non-profit entities and developers using NSP funds.

Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Live Near Good Schools

Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Live Near Good Schools
Journal of Housing Economics 23(1), 2014: 28-40. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhe.2013.11.005

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Amy Ellen Schwartz, and Keren Horn
03/06/2014

The Housing Choice Voucher program was created, in part, to help low income households reach a broader range of neighborhoods and schools. Rather than concentrating low income households in designated developments, vouchers allow families to choose their housing units and neighborhoods. In this project we explore whether low income households use the flexibility provided by vouchers to reach neighborhoods with high performing schools. Unlike previous experimental work, which has focused on a small sample of voucher holders constrained to live in low-poverty neighborhoods, we look at the voucher population as a whole and explore the broad range of neighborhoods in which they live. Relying on internal data from HUD on the location of assisted households, we link each voucher holder in the country to the closest elementary school within their school district. We compare the characteristics of the schools that voucher holders are likely to attend to the characteristics of those accessible to other households receiving place based housing subsidies, other similar unsubsidized households and fair market rent units within the same state and metropolitan area. These comparisons provide us with a portrait of the schools that children might have attended absent HUD assistance. In comparison to other poor households in the same metropolitan areas, we find that the schools near voucher holders have lower performing students than the schools near other poor households without a housing subsidy. We probe this surprising finding by exploring whether differences between the demographic characteristics of voucher holders and other poor households explain the differences in the characteristics of nearby schools, and whether school characteristics vary with length of time in the voucher program. We also examine variation across metropolitan areas in the relative quality of schools near to voucher holders and whether this variation is explained by economic, socio-demographic or policy differences across cities.

High Stakes in the Classroom, High Stakes on the Street: The Effects of Community Violence on Students’ Standardized Test Performance

High Stakes in the Classroom, High Stakes on the Street: The Effects of Community Violence on Students’ Standardized Test Performance
Sociological Science, forthcoming

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Patrick Sharkey, and Johanna Lacoe
03/06/2014

This paper examines the effect of exposure to violent crime on students’ standardized test performance among a sample of students in New York City public schools. To identify the effect of exposure to community violence on children’s test scores, we compare students exposed to an incident of violent crime on their own blockface in the week prior to the exam to students exposed in the week after the exam. The results show that such exposure to violent crime reduces performance on English Language Arts assessments, and no effect on Math scores. The effect of exposure to violent crime is most pronounced among African Americans, and reduces the passing rates of black students by approximately 3 percentage points.

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