Housing & Community Development

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Brian J. McCabe and Ingrid Gould Ellen
04/05/2016

Problem, research strategy, and findings: A number of studies have examined the property value impacts of historic preservation, but few have considered how preservation shapes neighborhood composition. In this study, we ask whether the designation of historic districts contributes to changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of New York City neighborhoods. Bringing together data on historic districts with a panel of census tracts, we study how neighborhoods change after the designation of a historic district. We find little evidence of changes in the racial composition of a neighborhood, but report a significant increase in socioeconomic status following historic designation.
Takeaway for practice: Our research offers empirical evidence on changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of neighborhoods following the designation of a historic district. It suggests that historic preservation can contribute to economic revitalization in urban neighborhoods, but that these changes risk making neighborhoods less accessible to lower-income residents. Planners should consider ways that the city government can work to preserve the highly valued amenities of historic neighborhoods while mitigating the potential for residential displacement.

Race, Poverty, and Federal Rental Housing Policy

Race, Poverty, and Federal Rental Housing Policy
In HUD at 50: Creating Pathways to Opportunity. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. November 2015.

Ingrid Gould Ellen and Jessica Yager
01/14/2016

The chapter examines HUD’s complex and, at times, contradictory goals of creating and preserving high-quality affordable rental housing, spurring community development, facilitating access to opportunity, combating racial discrimination, and furthering integration through federal housing and urban development policy. It discusses HUD’s mixed success in fair housing enforcement and examines five key tensions running through all of HUD’s work.

Race and the Housing Cycle: Differences in Home Equity Trends Among Long-Term Homeowners

Race and the Housing Cycle: Differences in Home Equity Trends Among Long-Term Homeowners
Housing Policy Debate

Jacob Faber and Ingrid Gould Ellen
01/10/2016

During the past decade, housing markets across the United States experienced dramatic upheaval. Housing prices rose rapidly throughout much of the country from 2000 until the start of 2007 and then fell sharply during the next two years. Many households lost substantial amounts of their equity during this downturn; in aggregate, U.S. homeowners lost $7 trillion in equity from 2006 to 2009. Aggregate home equity holdings had fallen back to 2000 levels by early 2009. While this intense volatility has been well documented, there remain unanswered questions about the variation in experiences across racial groups, particularly among those who purchased their homes before the boom and kept them through the collapse of the market. Did this housing market upheaval widen the already large racial and ethnic gaps in housing wealth? Using the American Housing Survey, we analyze differences in the changes in home equity experienced by homeowners of different races and ethnicities between 2003 and 2009. We focus on homeowners who remained in their homes over this period and find that blacks and Hispanics gained less home equity than whites and were more likely to end the period underwater. Black-white gaps were driven in part by racial disparities in income and education and differences in types of homes purchased. Latino-white disparities were most dramatic during the market’s bust.

Preserving History or Restricting Development: The Heterogenous Effects of Historic Districts on Local Housing Markets in New York City

Preserving History or Restricting Development: The Heterogenous Effects of Historic Districts on Local Housing Markets in New York City
2016. Journal of Urban Economics, 92(2016): 16-30.

Vicki Been, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Michael Gedal, Edward Glaeser, and Brian McCabe
01/10/2016

Since Brooklyn Heights was designated as New York City's first landmarked neighborhood in 1965, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has designated 120 historic neighborhoods in the city. This paper develops a theory in which landmarking has heterogeneous impacts across neighborhoods and exploits variation in the timing of historic district designations in New York City to identify the effects of preservation policies on residential property markets. We combine data on residential transactions during the 35-year period between 1974 and 2009 with data from the Landmarks Preservation Commission on the location of the city's historic districts and the timing of the designations. Consistent with theory, properties just outside the boundaries of districts increase in value after designation. Further, designation raises property values within historic districts, but only outside of Manhattan. As predicted, impacts are more positive in areas where the value of the option to build unrestricted is lower. Impacts also appear to be more positive in districts that are more aesthetically appealing.

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City

Does Preservation Accelerate Neighborhood Change? Examining the Impact of Historic Preservation in New York City
2016. Journal of the American Planning Association, 82(2): 134-146.

Ingrid Gould Ellen and Brian J. McCabe
01/10/2016

A number of studies have examined the property value impacts of historic preservation, but few have considered how preservation shapes neighborhood composition.  In this study, we ask whether the designation of historic districts contributes to changes in the racial composition and socioeconomic status of New York City neighborhoods.  Bringing together data on historic districts with a panel of census tracts, we study how neighborhoods change after the designation of a historic district.  We find little evidence of changes in the racial composition of a neighborhood, but report a significant increase in socioeconomic status following historic designation.

Building prosecutorial autonomy from within: The transformation of the Ministério Público in Brazil

Building prosecutorial autonomy from within: The transformation of the Ministério Público in Brazil

Coslovsky, Salo and Amit Nigam
12/28/2015

How do prosecutors acquire professional prerogatives, organizational autonomy, and legal authority? In contrast to previous research, which identifies top-down, bottom-up and outside-in models of reform, we show that government officials can engage in transformation from within their own ranks. Specifically, we examine how Brazilian prosecutors evolved from a low profile assemblage of transient and politically dependent prosecutors into one of the most autonomous and authoritative public agencies in the country. We find that they created cohesion among their ranks, lobbied incessantly, and crafted alliances that nonetheless keep their options open. Thanks to this responsive and pragmatic strategy, they took full advantage of ongoing turbulence in Brazilian politics: whenever the opportunity context expanded, they advanced their cause; whenever the context contracted, they strengthened their mobilizing structures and protected their gains. While previous research looks at one transition at a time, this longitudinal study shows the heterogeneous strategies of long-term reform.

Housing, Neighborhoods, and Children’s Health

Housing, Neighborhoods, and Children’s Health
Future of Children, Volume 25 Number 1 Spring 2015

Ingrid Gould Ellen and Sherry Glied
09/17/2015

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 transi- tions 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.

 

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