Urban Policy

State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods 2011

State of New York City's Housing and Neighborhoods 2011
Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, New York University

Been, V., S. Dastrup, I.G. Ellen, B. Gross, A. Hayashi, S. Latham, M. Lewit, J. Madar, V. Reina, M. Weselcouch, and M. Williams.

The Furman Center is pleased to present the 2011 edition of the State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods. In this annual report, the Furman Center compiles statistics on housing, demographics and quality of life in the City, its five boroughs and 59 community districts.This year we examine the distribution of the burden of New York City’s property tax, analyze the changing racial and ethnic makeup of city neighborhoods, evaluate the state of mortgage lending in New York City, and compare federally-subsidized housing programs across the five most populous U.S. cities.

Do Foreclosures Cause Crime?

Do Foreclosures Cause Crime?
Furman Center

Ellen, Ingrid, Johanna Lacoe and Claudia Sharygin

Foreclosures affect not only individual homeowners, but also the crime levels of the surrounding neighborhood. This study found that neighborhoods with concentrated foreclosures see an uptick in crime for each foreclosure notice issued. These effects are pronounced in hardest hit neighborhoods; that is, those with concentrated foreclosures. The report suggests that policing and community stabilizing efforts should prioritize areas with concentrated foreclosures, especially those where crime rates are already moderate to high.

A Canary in the Mortgage Market? Why the recent FHA and GSE loan limit reductions deserve attention

A Canary in the Mortgage Market? Why the recent FHA and GSE loan limit reductions deserve attention
Furman Center White Paper

Madar, J. & Willis, M.A.

On October 1, 2011, the maximum loan size eligible for Federal Housing Administration (FHA) insurance or a guarantee from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (known as "Government-Sponsored Enterprises" or "GSEs") dropped in dozens of metropolitan areas around the country. When this change took effect, a segment of the mortgage market in each of these areas instantly lost some or all federal backing. If enough borrowers seeking loans in this segment are unable to find financing, the result will be further downward pressure on the corresponding segment of the housing market. In this report, we use recent mortgage origination data to explore some of the possible implications of this policy change for the housing market and the U.S. mortgage finance system.

Converging Evidence for Neighborhood Effects on Children’s Test Scores: An Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Observational Comparison

Converging Evidence for Neighborhood Effects on Children’s Test Scores: An Experimental, Quasi-Experimental, and Observational Comparison
Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, G. Duncan and R. Murnane, eds. New York: Russell Sage.

Burdick-Will, J., J. Ludwig, S. Raudenbush, R. Sampson, L. Sanbonmatsu, and P. Sharkey

Rising income inequality has been found to be associated with rising segregation at the neighborhood level, generating concern about whether neighborhood environments themselves may influence children’s life chances, independent of other individual child and family characteristics. Because poor and minority Americans are overrepresented in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods, any “neighborhood effects” on children may contribute to persistent disparities in overall schooling outcomes across race and class lines in the United States.

A large body of nonexperimental research dating back to the Coleman Report in 1966 has produced evidence consistent with the idea of large neighborhood effects on children’s schooling outcomes. However, drawing causal inferences from these studies is complicated by the fact that the attributes of a neighborhood in which a family lives is likely correlated with characteristics of the family that predict schooling outcomes. These studies are therefore vulnerable to selection bias. The one formal randomized experiment in this literature is the five-city Moving to Opportunity (MTO) experiment, data from which suggests no statistically significant impacts, on average, on reading or math test scores for children in MTO measured four to seven years after baseline. How one should weight the findings from the MTO experiment versus the larger body of nonexperimental research remains the topic of ongoing debate within the research and policy communities.

In this chapter, we try to reconcile the experimental, quasi-experimental, and observational research literature regarding neighborhood effects on children, and we argue that the available findings are more convergent than many people believe. Drawing on a number of recent and unusually high-quality quasi-experimental and observational studies, together with a reexamination of MTO findings across the individual MTO demonstration sites, we believe that the available - 3 - evidence allows us to reject the null hypothesis that neighborhood environments never matter for children’s outcomes. Yet at the same time, the data also do not support the hypothesis that neighborhoods always matter.

In our view, the key question for research and public policy is to learn more about the conditions under which neighborhoods matter for children’s academic outcomes and why. Our ability to answer this question in the present chapter is restricted by the limited number of studies that have employed sufficiently strong research designs to support inferences about neighborhood effects on children’s outcomes, and by the fact that a disproportionate share of the studies that meet this research-design threshold have been carried out in a single city (Chicago).

With these important qualifications in mind, we believe that there is at least a suggestive case to be made that children’s test scores may be most strongly affected by community violence or may respond nonlinearly to concentrated neighborhood disadvantage or community violence. Put differently, what may matter most for children’s cognitive development is to avoid living in the most severely economically distressed or dangerous neighborhoods in the country, neighborhoods that are found in cities like Baltimore and Chicago but, surprisingly, are less prevalent even in other major urban areas such as Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. Given the limitations of the available evidence, we offer these as hypotheses to be tested further rather than as strong conclusions.

Intraurban Differences in the Use of Ambulatory Health Services in a Large Brazilian City

Intraurban Differences in the Use of Ambulatory Health Services in a Large Brazilian City
Journal of Urban Health, Vol. 87 no. 6, pp. 994-1006. 10.1007/s11524-010-9499-4

Turci, M.A., M.F. Lima-Costa, F.A. Proietti, C.C. Cesar, and J. Macinko

A major goal of health systems is to reduce inequities in access to services, that is, to ensure that health care is provided based on health needs rather than social or economic factors. This study aims to identify the determinants of health services utilization among adults in a large Brazilian city and intraurban disparities in health care use. We combine household survey data with census-derived classification of social vulnerability of each household’s census tract. The dependent variable was utilization of physician services in the prior 12 months, and the independent variables included predisposing factors, health needs, enabling factors, and context. Prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals were estimated by the Hurdle regression model, which combined Poisson regression analysis of factors associated with any doctor visits (dichotomous variable) and zero-truncated negative binomial regression for the analysis of factors associated with the number of visits among those who had at least one. Results indicate that the use of health services was greater among women and increased with age, and was determined primarily by health needs and whether the individual had a regular doctor, even among those living in areas of the city with the worst socio-environmental indicators. The experience of Belo Horizonte may have implications for other world cities, particularly in the development and use of a comprehensive index to identify populations at risk and in order to guide expansion of primary health care services as a means of enhancing equity in health.

Using cross-curricular, problem-based learning to promote understanding of poverty in urban communities

Using cross-curricular, problem-based learning to promote understanding of poverty in urban communities
Journal of Social Work Education, 46(1), 147 – 156.

Gardner, D., Tuchman, E., & Hawkins, R.

This article describes the use of problem-based learning to teach students about the scope and consequences of urban poverty through an innovative cross-curricular project. We illustrate the process, goals, and tasks of the Community Assessment Project, which incorporates community-level assessment, collection and analysis of public data, and social policy analysis and planning. Students in three master's classes (Social Work Research I, Ending Poverty: Models for Social Change and Social Action, and Advanced Social Policy in Aging) worked in self-directed groups to explore the impact of economic insecurity on our most vulnerable clients. The project engaged students, linked research and policy practice, and helped to educate the next generation of social workers about urban poverty and strategies for community-based research and practice.

The Changing Distribution and Determinants of Obesity in the Neighborhoods of New York City, 2003–2007

The Changing Distribution and Determinants of Obesity in the Neighborhoods of New York City, 2003–2007
American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 171, no. 7, pp. 765-775. 10.1093/aje/kwp458


Obesity (body mass index 30 kg/m2 ) is a growing urban health concern, but few studies have examined whether, how, or why obesity prevalence has changed over time within cities. This study characterized the individual- and neighborhood-level determinants and distribution of obesity in New York City from 2003 to 2007. Individual-level data from the Community Health Survey (n ¼ 48,506 adults, 34 neighborhoods) were combined with neighborhood measures. Multilevel regression assessed changes in obesity over time and associations with neighborhood-level income and food and physical activity amenities, controlling for age, racial/ethnic identity, education, employment, US nativity, and marital status, stratified by gender. Obesity rates increased by 1.6% (P < 0.05) each year, but changes over time differed significantly between neighborhoods and by gender. Obesity prevalence increased for women, even after controlling for individual- and neighborhood-level factors (prevalence ratio ¼ 1.021, P < 0.05), whereas no significant changes were reported for men. Neighborhood factors including increased area income (prevalence ratio ¼ 0.932) and availability of local food and fitness amenities (prevalence ratio ¼ 0.889) were significantly associated with reduced obesity (P < 0.001). Findings suggest that policies to reduce obesity in urban environments must be informed by up-to-date surveillance data and may require a variety of initiatives that respond to both individual and contextual determinants of obesity.

Transportation Recovery in an Age of Disasters

Transportation Recovery in an Age of Disasters
Proceedings of the Transportation Research Board 89th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC

Zimmerman, R.

Disasters from terrorism, natural hazards and accidents are now becoming commonplace and may be increasing as a major threat against the viability of transportation infrastructure and the invaluable social services it provides. The paper first sets forth the nature of the threats and hazards transportation infrastructure faces. This provides the foundation for understanding the need to develop an integrated and common set of solutions that incorporates co-benefits to solve more than one problem at the same time, that is, simultaneously for different kinds of hazards, different types of infrastructures, and infrastructures that affect or have interdependencies with transportation. Types of funding sources and innovative technologies that are becoming available to support protection and recovery are discussed in terms of their ability to integrate multiple hazards and address areas of need.

The High Cost of Segregation: The Relationship Between Racial Segregation and Subprime Lending

The High Cost of Segregation: The Relationship Between Racial Segregation and Subprime Lending
November 2009

Furman Center for Real Estate & Urban Policy

This study examines whether the likelihood that borrowers of different races received a subprime loan varied depending on the level of racial segregation where they live. It looks both at the role of racial segregation in metropolitan areas across the country and at the role that neighborhood demographics within communities in New York City played.


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