Ingrid Gould Ellen

Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, Director for Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy

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Ingrid Gould Ellen

Ingrid Gould Ellen, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, is a Faculty Director at the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy. She joined the NYU Wagner faculty in the fall of 1997 and presently teaches courses in microeconomics, urban economics, and urban policy. Professor Ellen's research interests center on housing and urban policy.  She is author of Sharing America's Neighborhoods: The Prospects for Stable Racial Integration (Harvard University Press, 2000) and has written numerous journal articles and book chapters related to housing policy, community development, and school and neighborhood segregation. Professor Ellen has held visiting positions at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. She attended Harvard University, where she received a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics, an M.P.P., and a Ph.D. in public policy.

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.

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This course, taught jointly by faculty members of the Gallatin School and the Wagner School, offers doctoral students an opportunity to learn about the latest theoretical and empirical research on critical urban issues. The course is not taught in a lecture format. Rather, the colloquium focuses on discussions of academic works in progress by scholars from around the country, working in such disciplines as sociology, history, planning, law, public health, public policy, and economics. Students will participate in an in-depth discussion of the paper with the author, together with other faculty and researchers from NYU and the New York area. Students must submit short papers critiquing a number of the works in progress, and have the opportunity to meet informally (usually over dinner) with a few authors to discuss the topic further. Students will also be assigned supplemental readings to ensure that they have the background necessary to understand upcoming papers.  The course is designed to be multidisciplinary, and we invite doctoral students from across the university to enroll.

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The field of urban economics addresses a wide variety of questions and topics. At the most general level, the field introduces space into economic models and studies the location of economic activity. Urban economics typically addresses four sets of questions, and this course is organized around these four areas. The first set of questions focuses on the development of urban areas. Why do cities exist and why do some grow more rapidly? How can local governments encourage such growth? The second set of questions addresses patterns of development within metropolitan areas. Why do certain parts of metropolitan areas grow more rapidly than others? How do firms and households decide where to locate within given metropolitan areas? What determines the price of land, and how do these prices vary across space? The third set of questions concerns the spatial dimensions of urban problems. In this class, we will focus on poverty, housing, and suburban sprawl. Finally, in the last part of the class, we will briefly study the spatial aspects of local government.

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The field of urban economics addresses a wide variety of questions and topics. At the most general level, the field introduces space into economic models and studies the location of economic activity. Urban economics typically addresses four sets of questions, and this course is organized around these four areas. The first set of questions focuses on the development of urban areas. Why do cities exist and why do some grow more rapidly? How can local governments encourage such growth? The second set of questions addresses patterns of development within metropolitan areas. Why do certain parts of metropolitan areas grow more rapidly than others? How do firms and households decide where to locate within given metropolitan areas? What determines the price of land, and how do these prices vary across space? The third set of questions concerns the spatial dimensions of urban problems. In this class, we will focus on poverty, housing, and suburban sprawl. Finally, in the last part of the class, we will briefly study the spatial aspects of local government.

Download Syllabus

The primary purpose of the microeconomics core course is to enable you to use microeconomic thinking, concepts and tools in your professional public service work. Accomplishing this also requires refreshing and strengthening your quantitative skills.

The course begins with the basics of supply and demand and market operations, and uses this as the context for considering consumer and organizational decisions within a given market structure. The course builds to applying economic analysis to a variety of public issues such as the effects of taxation, the market structure of health care, the impacts of the minimum wage, the effects of international trade and various approaches to environmental externalities.

By the end of the course you should be able to articulate the economic context and analysis of a public problem, use economic concepts in managerial and policy decisions, and progress to second level courses confident of your understanding of microeconomics and its tools.

Download Syllabus

2018

Ingrid Ellen, Agustina Laurito, Johanna Lacoe, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Patrick Sharkey. School Climate and the Impact of Neighborhood Crime on Test Scores. The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences.
Forthcoming
Ingrid Ellen. Can Gentrification be Inclusive?. In Christopher Herbert, Jonathan Spader, Jennifer Molinsky, Shannon Rieger, Eds., A Shared Future: Fostering Communities of Inclusion in an Era of Inequality. Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, 2018.
Ingrid Ellen, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. Gentrification and Fair Housing: Does Gentrification Further Integration?. Housing Policy Debate (2018).
Forthcoming
Abstract

Congress created the Section 8 Existing Housing Certificate program (now the Housing Choice Voucher Program) in 1974. Unlike previous federal programs that subsidized the creation of place-based affordable housing, the Section 8 program provided vouchers to households to rent units on the private market. Four decades later, the Housing Choice Voucher Program is now the largest low-income housing subsidy program managed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Research shows that vouchers reduce the rent burdens of low-income households, allow them to live in less crowded homes, and help them to avoid homelessness. The program has been less successful, however, in getting recipients to better neighborhoods and schools, and perhaps the greatest disappointment of the program is its limited reach. Families wait for years in most places to receive a voucher, and only one in four households eligible for a voucher nationally receives any federal housing assistance. Further, a significant minority of households who receive vouchers never use them, in part because of the difficulty of finding willing landlords with acceptable units. Thus, as effective as the program is, there is still much to learn about its operation and how we might improve it.

Abstract

This paper provides the introduction to the special issue on Race and the City in the Journal of Housing Economics in 2018. The paper surveys relevant topics on racial and ethnic discrimination and residential segregation, and provides a more detailed discussion of the specific papers in the special issue. The paper primarily focuses on the literatures on discrimination in housing, on-line markets and policing. In terms of racial segregation, the paper discusses work related to the pattern of residential segregation and the causes and consequences of segregation.

Ingrid Ellen, Michael Suher, Gerard Torrats-Espinosa. Neighbors and Networks: The Role of Social Interactions on the Residential Choices of Housing Choice Voucher Holders.
Ingrid Ellen, Michael Gedal. Valuing Urban Land: Comparing the Use of Teardown and Vacant Land Sales.
Forthcoming
Abstract

Objectives: 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. Methods: Partnering with a local community-based organization, four bilingual CHWs recruited adult residents in one public housing building and one Section 8 building to participate in a 15-month intervention. Residents set health-related and life-improvement goals and developed an action plan for achieving them. CHWs used a motivational interviewing framework to help residents achieve their goals and connect them to case management, healthcare services, and other community resources. Prior to the intervention, surveyors approached every unit in both buildings for a baseline survey; 390 of an estimated 819 residents responded (47.6 percent). Of the 226 who completed an intake assessment with a CHW, 149 completed the program assessment questionnaire (65.9 percent). Results: Residents reported high levels of chronic disease, mental health issues, and low satisfaction with social relationships. 226 residents (61.3 percent female, 29.7 percent age 65 years or older, and 68.6 percent Hispanic or Latino) completed an intake assessment with a CHW and received an average of 11 in-person visits. Most program assessment respondents reported partially or completely achieving their most important goal (82.0 percent). They also reported high levels of satisfaction with the CHW program (96.6 percent) and improved overall well-being (78.6 percent). Conclusions: CHWs based in subsidized housing buildings encountered high levels of medical and social needs among residents. Improvements in self-reported well-being and high levels of satisfaction with the program suggest that such place-based initiatives may be effective in addressing health and its determinants.

Abstract

There is considerable controversy about the allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Some charge that credits are disproportionately allocated to developments in poor, minority neighborhoods without additional investments and thereby reinforcing patterns of poverty concentration and racial segregation. We examine whether Qualified Allocation Plans, which outline the selection criteria states use when awarding credits, can serve as an effective tool for directing credits to higher opportunity neighborhoods (or neighborhoods that offer a rich set of resources, such as high-performing schools and access to jobs) for states wishing to do so. To answer this question, we study changes in the location criteria outlined in allocation plans for 20 different states across the country between 2002 and 2010, and observe the degree to which those modifications are associated with changes in the poverty rates and racial composition of the neighborhoods where developments awarded tax credits are located. We find evidence that changes to allocation plans that prioritize higher opportunity neighborhoods are associated with increases in the share of credits allocated to housing units in lower poverty neighborhoods and reductions in the share allocated to those in predominantly minority neighborhoods. This analysis provides the first source of empirical evidence that state allocation plans can shape LIHTC siting patterns.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Keren Horn, and Yiwen Kuai. Gateway to Opportunity? Disparities in Neighborhood Conditions Among Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Residents.
Forthcoming

2017

Abstract

We estimate the effects of residential racial segregation on socio-economic outcomes for native-born Latino young adults over the past three decades. Using individual public use micro-data samples from the Census and a novel instrumental variable, we find that higher levels of metropolitan area segregation are associated with negative effects on Latino young adults’ likelihood of being either employed or in school, on the likelihood of working in a professional occupation, and on income. The negative effects of segregation are somewhat larger for Latinos than for African Americans. Controlling for Latino and white exposure to neighborhood poverty, neighbors with college degrees, and industries that saw large increases in high-skill employment explains between one half and two thirds of the association between Latino-white segregation and Latino-white gaps in outcomes.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

When only one in four low-income households receives a rent subsidy from the federal government, it seems patently unfair to spend scarce federal housing dollars to support households with higher incomes. Although moderate- and middle-income households increasingly struggle to pay their housing costs, their burdens are far less extreme. Consider that, across the country in 2013, 36 percent of low-income renter households (those earning less than 80 percent of the Area Median Income [AMI]) and 62 percent of extremely low-income renter households (those earning less than 30 percent of AMI) paid more than one-half of their incomes on rent. Meanwhile, only 2.4 percent of renters earning between 80 and 120 percent of AMI paid more than one-half of their incomes on rent (Steffen et al., 2015). Further, even when paying the same share of their incomes on rent, moderate- and middle-income households enjoy significantly higher residual incomes than their lower-income counterparts.

Sewin Chan, Ingrid Ellen. We All Grow Old: Housing Characteristics, Falls and the Health of Seniors. Working paper, 2017.
Forthcoming

2016

Abstract

This article documents that most public housing in New York City, which was originally built decades ago in low-income areas, is now surrounded by neighborhoods with relatively high average household incomes. Higher neighborhood income is associated with improved neighborhood indicators—developments surrounded by increasing- and high-income neighborhoods have lower violent crime rates and are zoned for public elementary schools with higher standardized test scores than developments surrounded by low-income neighborhoods. In addition, New York City Housing Authority residents in developments with increasing- and high-income surrounding neighborhoods are more often employed, earn $1,675 and $3,500 more annually, respectively, after controlling for observable characteristics, and have higher adult educational attainment. To be sure, the benefits are not unqualified; our qualitative research shows that, although public housing residents appreciate improvements in the surrounding neighborhoods (especially improved safety), they can also feel alienated when the neighborhoods around them change and face challenges as day-to-day living expenses increase, even if rents are held steady.

Abstract

The realities of climate change demand updated approaches and tools to support decision making. In this article, we examine the promise of an emerging tool, multicriteria analysis (MCA), in climate-change planning. We find that MCA has the potential to perform better than cost-benefit analysis and working group approaches in supporting decision-making processes that are more participatory, transparent, comprehensive, rigorous, and scenario-driven. However, in practice, MCA may not achieve all of these effective planning principles, and it is more likely to fall short in cases where planners have limited resources.

Abstract

New evidence on the effects of growing up in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty has heightened policy interest in understanding the role housing programs may play in shaping the distribution of poverty. In particular, as the nation’s largest source of funding for the construction of affordable rental housing, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) could play a critical role in shaping the distribution of poverty. This paper examines whether the LIHTC affects the concentration of poverty by examining who lives in tax credit developments in different neighborhoods, and how neighborhoods and metropolitan areas change after LIHTC developments are built. Through assessing both the effects of siting and tenant composition, we find little evidence that the LIHTC is increasing the concentration of poverty – and we find some evidence that it is reducing poverty rates in high-poverty neighborhoods. We also make suggestions for states who want to use LIHTC to do more to deconcentrate poverty.

Abstract

We use the American Housing Survey to examine the distribution and occupancy of homes that have, or could be modified to have, accessibility features that allow seniors to successfully remain in the community as they age. Despite the aging population and the growing need for accessible housing, the U.S. housing stock is woefully inadequate: fewer than 4% of housing units could be considered livable by people with moderate mobility difficulties, and a miniscule fraction are wheelchair accessible. Recent construction is no more likely to be accessible than homes built in the mid-1990s, suggesting that the housing market is not responding to the aging demographic profile. Only a small fraction of seniors, even among those with mobility difficulties, and even among recent movers, live in suitable homes. Modifications that potentially improve accessibility are more likely undertaken by households with a senior, but only once that senior develops mobility difficulties.

Abstract

Housing choice vouchers provide low-income households with additional income to spend on rental housing in the private market. The assistance vouchers provide is substantial, offering the potential to dramatically expand the neighborhoods—and associated public schools—that low-income households can reach. However, existing research on the program suggests that housing choice voucher holders live in neighborhoods with schools that are no better than those accessible to other households with similar incomes. Households, in other words, do not seem to spend the additional income provided by the voucher to access better schools. In this analysis we rely on a large-scale administrative data set to explore why voucher households typically do not live near to better schools, as measured by school-level proficiency rates. We combine confidential administrative data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development on 1.4 million housing choice voucher holders in 15 states, with school-level data from 5,841 different school districts, to examine why the average housing voucher holder does not live near to higher-performing schools than otherwise similar households without vouchers. Specifically, we use the large-scale administrative data set to test whether voucher holders living in areas with good schools nearby and slack housing markets move toward better schools when schools become salient for them—that is, when their oldest child becomes school eligible. We take advantage of the thick sample of households with young children provided through our administrative data to implement both a household fixed effects and a regression discontinuity design. Together these analyses shed light on whether voucher households are more likely to move toward better schools when schools are most relevant, and how market conditions shape that response. We find that families with vouchers are more likely to move toward a better school in the year before their oldest child meets the eligibility cutoff for kindergarten, suggesting salience matters. Further, the magnitude of the effect is larger in metropolitan areas with a relatively high share of affordable rental units located near high-performing schools and in neighborhoods in close proximity to higher-performing schools. Results suggest that, if given the appropriate information and opportunities, more voucher families would move to better schools when their children reach school age.

Abstract

The year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which has the authority to designate areas as historic districts and to designate individual, interior and scenic landmark sites. The LPC aims to achieve a wide array of goals through preservation, from safeguarding historic assets to promoting tourism, enhancing property values, and furthering economic development. This fact brief does not seek to assess progress in meeting those goals, but rather to describe the extent of historic preservation in New York City and explore some of the differences between historic districts and non-regulated areas. This brief draws on our full report, Fifty Years of Historic Preservation, and focuses on historic districts as such districts include the majority of parcels regulated by the LPC.

Abstract

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods 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.

The 2015 report, released on May 9, 2016, is presented in three parts:

Part 1: Focus on Gentrification

Each year, the State of the City report describes, contextualizes, and provides analysis on a pressing and policy-relevant issue affecting New York City. In 2015, the report focuses on gentrification in New York City, exploring and comparing changes over time in the city's neighborhoods to better understand how rapidly rising rents affect residents.

Part 2: Citywide Analysis

The Citywide Analysis provides a broad, longitudinal analysis of the New York City's housing and neighborhoods. The chapter is divided into five parts: New Yorkers; land use and the built environment; homeowners and their homes; renters and their homes; 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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Ingrid Gould Ellen. Housing Low-Income Households: Lessons from the Sharing Economy?. 2015. Housing Policy Debate, 25:4, 783-784. DOI: 10.1080/10511482.2015.1042204.
Abstract

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.

 

Abstract

Despite the high levels of metropolitan-area segregation that Latinos experience, there is a lack of research examining the effects of segregation on Latino socioeconomic outcomes and whether those effects differ from the negative effects documented for African Americans. We find that segregation is consistently associated with lower levels of educational attainment and labor market success for both African American and Latino young adults compared with whites, with associations of similar magnitudes for both groups. One mechanism through which segregation may influence outcomes is the difference in the levels of neighborhood human capital to which whites, Latinos, and African Americans are exposed. We find that higher levels of segregation are associated with lower black and Latino neighborhood exposure to residents with college degrees, relative to whites. We also find support for other commonly discussed mechanisms, such as exposure to neighborhood violent crime and the relative proficiency of the closest public school.

Abstract

This paper examines homeowners’ self-reported values in the American Housing Survey and the Health and Retirement Study from the start of the recent housing price run-ups through recent price declines. We compare zip code level market-based estimates of housing prices to those derived from homeowners’ self-reported values. We show that there are systematic differences which vary with market conditions and the amount of equity owners hold in their homes. When prices have fallen, homeowners systematically state that their homes are worth more than market estimates suggest, and homeowners with little or no equity in their homes state values above the market estimates to a greater degree. Over time, homeowners appear to adjust their assessments to be more in line with past market trends, but only slowly. Our results suggest that underwater borrowers are likely to understate their losses and either may not be aware that their mortgages are underwater or underestimate the degree to which they are.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Rob Collinson, and Jens Ludwig. Low Income Housing Policy. In Robert Moffit (ed.) Economics of Means-Tested Transfer Programs in the United States. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Forthcoming
Abstract

The supply of affordable rental housing failed to keep pace with demand in the 11 largest U.S. cities while rents rose faster than household incomes in five of the them. The NYU Furman Center/Capital One National Affordable Housing Landscape examines rental housing affordability trends in the central cities of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas (New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Boston, Atlanta and Miami) from 2006 to 2013 and illustrates how these trends affected renters as more households chose to rent amid rising rental costs.

Nine of the 11 largest U.S. cities have seen falling vacancy rates and rising rents, which are hurting lower- and middle-income renters. “Affordable” rent should comprise less than 30 percent of a household’s income. With the exception of Dallas and Houston, the average renter in each metropolitan area could not afford the majority of recently available rental units in their city. The cities were even less affordable to low-income renters, who could afford no more than 11 percent of recently available units in the most affordable cities.

Since 2006, there has been an increase in the share of low- and moderate-income renters who are severely rent-burdened— meaning they face rent and utility costs equal to at least half of their income. In 2013, over a quarter of moderate-income renters were severely rent-burdened in seven of the cities in the study, while a significant majority of low-income renters in all 11 cities were severely rent-burdened. The percentage of low-income renters facing severe rent-burdens continued to rise in each of these cities and low-income renters are often most acutely impacted by the lack of affordable housing.

The study also found that in five cities, the proportion of moderate-income renters experiencing severe rent burdens grew remarkably, while in other cities, the situation for moderate-income renters either changed little or even improved.

Abstract

New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing apartments make up more than 5 percent of New York City’s housing units, and provide over a quarter of rental housing affordable to New Yorkers with low and moderate incomes. Most New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) public housing was built between 1950 and 1970 in what were, at the time, low-income neighborhoods. In the intervening decades, many of these neighborhoods have seen considerable demographic changes. While many public housing authorities in cities across the United States have been tearing down and replacing traditional public housing developments with mixed-income communities, New York City and NYCHA have maintained the traditional public housing model of 100 percent low-income developments. Nonetheless, many residents of traditional public housing in New York City may experience mixed-income environments, as the neighborhoods around their public housing campuses have seen increases in average income.

This report presents findings of a study by Abt Associates, the NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and partners in New York City neighborhoods (referred to as the Abt team) on how the socioeconomic makeup of and change in neighborhoods surrounding NYCHA developments affect residents of those developments. We also explore some policies and programs that could help residents take greater advantage of changes and opportunities in their surrounding neighborhoods.

Abstract

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods in 2014 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 Density

Each year, the State of the City report describes, contextualizes, and provides analysis on a pressing and policy-relevant issue affecting New York City. In 2014, the report focuses on the evolution of density in New York City’s neighborhoods over time, whether this evolution has been accompanied by changes in New Yorkers’ quality of life, and how the city might accommodate future population growth.

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; residents; 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.

Abstract

Recent research has examined the siting patterns of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) developments, but the reality is that the LIHTC program is not one uniform, national program. Rather, the program is administered by state allocating agencies, each of which has considerable discretion over how to allocate tax credits. In particular, each state issues a Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP), which outlines the selection criteria the state will use when awarding its nine percent tax credits. Some criteria are required by the federal government, such as setting aside at least 10 percent of credits for nonprofit developers and using the minimum amount of tax credit financing feasible. However, states are also allowed to adopt additional criteria that further the state’s housing policy and other goals, such as providing set-asides for developments with existing housing subsidies, including the HOPE VI Program, or awarding bonus points for locating developments in particular types of neighborhoods. As the competition for credits has increased, it seems likely that these criteria play a greater role in shaping where tax credit developments are built.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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, we present summary measures of housing accessibility based on the 2011 AHS. To develop these summary measures, we 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, we describe how accessibility varies by housing market characteristics as well as resident characteristics such as age, disability status, and income. We also present evidence on the relationship between the need for and availability of accessible housing units, taking affordability of accessible units into account.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

When Superstorm Sandy struck the New York City metropolitan area, it brought to light serious limitations in the ability of federal disaster aid programs to serve the residents of high-cost, high-density cities. Our current models of rehousing, repair, and rebuilding are geared toward low-density, owner-occupied, single-family homes. Yet, more than half the world’s population lives in dense, urbanized areas, many of which are susceptible not only to hurricanes, but also to earthquakes, tsunamis, and tornadoes.

2014

Abstract

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.

Abstract

Since the onset of the foreclosure crisis, many communities have faced a glut of properties that have completed the foreclosure process and are now owned by banks or other mortgage lenders. Policy-makers worry that large concentrations of these properties, referred to as ‘real estate owned’ or ‘REO,’ impose spillover effects on the price of homes and quality of life in surrounding neighborhood. Despite receiving significant policy attention, our understanding of the size, nature, and distribution of current REO stocks, as well as what becomes of properties after being sold, is extremely limited or anecdotal. Our paper shines new empirical light on the REO problem in hard-hit neighborhoods by using local data sources to analyze recent REO trends in New York City and the core counties of the Atlanta and Miami areas. For each, we calculate the size of the REO stock over time in different neighborhood types, estimate the types of purchasers, and determine whether purchased REO properties are flipped.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

The recent housing crisis has spawned much reflection among academics, practitioners and policy-makers regarding both the causes and the consequences of this upheaval, especially in the market for owner-occupied homes. But many questions remain. This special issue of the Journal of Housing Economics features a series of articles that seeks to answer some of these questions, with attention given to both the ownership and rental markets. We hope the nine articles in this issue help to provide some insights for both policy makers and researchers.

2013

Abstract

Six years ago, the housing bubble burst and sent the nation spiraling into the most severe recession since the Great Depression. Today, encouraging signs of recovery—sustained employment growth, rising housing starts, increased numbers of home sales, and generally increased sales prices— provide reason to believe that the nation and New York City have turned the corner. In this year’s State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report (State of the City) we examine how New York City is faring in the aftermath of the crisis.

In 2001, the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy released the first edition of the State of the City to make publicly available the enormous amount of data regarding housing and neighborhood conditions in New York City collected each year. Today, the State of the City includes an unprecedented number of indicators, measuring everything from the health of the housing market to the health of the city’s residents and the educational attainment of the city’s children. The report serves as a medium through which the Furman Center can investigate new data, describe and contextualize current trends, and highlight the pressing issues affecting New York City. This year’s State of the City focuses on how New York City is performing in the aftermath of the housing crash and recession, investigating changes in the city’s built environment, housing market conditions, population demographics, and health, education, and crime indicators.

Where data are available, this year’s State of the City compares New York City to the next four largest cities in the United States—Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia—to help contextualize the city’s experience during the housing boom and bust. In Sections 4 and 5, we also compare New York City residents (or “New Yorkers”) to the residents of these other large cities.

Abstract

Noting the decline in segregation between blacks and whites over the past several decades, some recent work argues that racial segregation is no longer a concern in the 21st century. In response, this paper revisits some of the concerns that John Quigley raised about racial segregation and neighborhoods to assess their relevance today. We note that while segregation levels between blacks and whites have certainly declined, they remain quite high; Hispanic and Asian segregation have meanwhile remained unchanged. Further, our analysis shows that the neighborhood environments of minorities continue to be highly unequal to those enjoyed by whites. Blacks and Hispanics continue to live among more disadvantaged neighbors, to have access to lower performing schools, and to be exposed to more violent crime. Further, these differences are amplified in more segregated metropolitan areas.

Abstract

This paper offers several hypotheses about which US higher-income households choose to move into low-income neighbourhoods and why. It first explores whether the probability that a household moves into a relatively low-income neighbourhood (an RLIN move) varies with predicted household and metropolitan area characteristics. Secondly, it estimates a residential choice model to examine the housing and neighbourhood preferences of the households making such moves. Thirdly, it explores responses to survey questions about residential choices. Evidence is found that, in the US, households who place less value on neighbourhood services and those who face greater constraints on their choices are more likely to make an RLIN move. No evidence is found that households making RLIN moves are choosing neighbourhoods that are more accessible to employment. Rather, it is found that households making RLIN moves appear to place less weight on neighbourhood amenities than other households and more weight on housing costs.

2012

Abstract

A family’s housing unit provides more than simply shelter. It also provides a set of neighborhood amenities and a package of local public services, including, most critically, a local school. Yet housing and education policymakers rarely coordinate their efforts, and there has been little examination of the schools that voucher holders or other assisted households actually reach. In this project we describe the elementary schools nearest to households receiving four different forms of housing assistance in the country as a whole, in each of the 50 states, and in the 100 largest metropolitan areas.We compare the characteristics of these schools to those accessible to other comparable households. We pay particular attention to whether voucher holders are able to reach neighborhoods with higher performing schools than other low-income households in the same geographic area.

 

In brief, we find that assisted households as a whole are more likely to live near low-performing schools than other households. Surprisingly, Housing Choice Voucher holders do not generally live near higher performing schools than households receiving other forms of housing assistance, even though the voucher program was created, in part, to help low-income households reach a broader range of neighborhoods and schools. While voucher holders typically live near schools that are higher performing than those nearest to public housing tenants, they also typically live near schools that are slightly lower performing than those nearest to households living in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and Projectbased Section 8 developments and lower performing than those nearest to other poor households.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Josiah Madar, and Mary Weselcouch. What's Really Happening to the REO Stock? An analysis of three cities: New York, Atlanta, and Miami. Report. NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, 2012.
Abstract

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.

Abstract

Potential neighbors often express worries that Housing Choice Voucher holders heighten crime. Yet, no research systematically examines the link between the presence of voucher holders in a neighborhood and crime. Our article aims to do just this, using longitudinal, neighborhood-level crime, and voucher utilization data in 10 large US cities. We test whether the presence of additional voucher holders leads to elevated crime, controlling for neighborhood fixed effects, time-varying neighborhood characteristics, and trends in the broader sub-city area in which the neighborhood is located. In brief, crime tends to be higher in census tracts with more voucher households, but that positive relationship becomes insignificant after we control for unobserved differences across census tracts and falls further when we control for trends in the broader area. We find far more evidence for an alternative causal story; voucher use in a neighborhood tends to increase in tracts that have seen increases in crime, suggesting that voucher holders tend to move into neighborhoods where crime is elevated.

Abstract

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.

Abstract

Few researchers have studied integrated neighborhoods, yet these neighborhoods offer an important window into broader patterns of segregation.  We explore changes in racial integration in recent decades using decennial census tract data from 1990, 2000, and 2010.  We begin by examining changes in the prevalence of racially integrated neighborhoods and find significant growth in the presence of integrated neighborhoods during this time period, with the share of metropolitan neighborhoods that are integrated increasing from just under 20 percent to just over 30 percent.  We then shed light on the pathways through which these changes have occurred.  We find both a small increase in the number of neighborhoods becoming integrated for the first time during this period and a more sizable increase in the share of integrated neighborhoods that remained integrated.  Finally, we offer insights about which neighborhoods become integrated in the first place and which remain stably integrated over time.

Abstract

Over the years, economists have debated the extent to which the assumption of a single housing market in a city or region is reasonable. Some have argued that in estimating housing prices, the housing market should be stratified into a series of separate submarkets, divided by structure type, neighbourhood, and potentially race and ethnicity. Still, even to the extent that these submarkets are distinct, they are clearly related. Households exhibit some flexibility in their choices, and prices in one sector clearly affect demand in other sectors to some degree. The debate about segmentation is really about degree – about how large the cross-price elasticity is between different types of housing.

Abstract

Community development has traditionally focused on investments in housing, commercial revitalization, and physical improvements. Although all three are clearly critical to communities, the field has largely ignored (or paid too little attention to) one of the key factors that shape the quality of the everyday life: public safety.

Yet there is growing evidence that families care a great deal about safety and prioritize it above many other community attributes. Concern about safety and crime was one of the main reasons why families participating in the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) demonstration program accepted the option to move out of their high-poverty neighborhoods. Moreover, participating families who received vouchers and assistance to move to lower-poverty environments relocated to safer neighborhoods. At the outset of the study, nearly half of all of the participating households in Boston reported feeling unsafe or very unsafe. Among those offered vouchers to move to lower poverty areas, that share fell to only 24 percent several years later.

Ellen, Ingrid, Gregory Ingram and Yu-Hung Hong. Comment on ‘The Mediocrity of Government Subsidies to Mixed-Income Housing Projects’. International Land Policy.  Cambridge, Mass: Lincoln Institute for Land Policy, forthcoming
Ellen, Ingrid, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Brian McCabe, and Colin Chellman. Does City-Subsidized, Owner-Occupied Housing Improve School Quality? Evidence from New York. Journal of the American Planning Association, 77(2), 2011: 127-141.
Abstract

 

This paper examines whether the economic gains experienced by low-income neighborhoods in the 1990s followed patterns of classic gentrification (as frequently assumed) -- that is, through the in migration of higher income white, households, and out migration (or displacement) of the original lower income, usually minority residents, spurring racial transition in the process. Using the internal Census version of the American Housing Survey, we find no evidence of heightened displacement, even among the most vulnerable, original residents. While the entrance of higher income homeowners was an important source of income gains, so too was the selective exit of lower income homeowners. Original residents also experienced differential gains in income and reported greater increases in their satisfaction with their neighborhood than found in other low-income neighborhoods. Finally, gaining neighborhoods were able to avoid the losses of white households that non-gaining low income tracts experienced, and were thereby more racially stable rather than less.

Ellen, Ingrid and Keren Horn. Creating a Metric of Educational Opportunity for Assisted Households.
Abstract

In the last few years, millions of homes around the country have entered foreclosure, pushing many families out of their homes and potentially forcing their children to move to new schools. Unfortunately, despite considerable attention to the causes and consequences of mortgage defaults, we understand little about the distribution and severity of these impacts on school children. This paper takes a step toward filling that gap through studying how foreclosures in New York City affect the mobility of public school children across schools. A significant body of research suggests that, in general, switching schools is costly for students, though the magnitude of the effect depends critically on the nature of the move and the quality of the origin and destination schools.

Ellen, Ingrid, John Napier Tye, and Mark Willis. The Secondary Market for Housing Finance in the United States: A Brief Overview. In Marvin Smith and Susan Wachter, Ed., The American Mortgage System: Rethink, Recover, Rebuild. Philadelphia, PA, University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming.
Ellen, Ingrid and Mark Willis. Improving U.S. Housing Finance through Reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: A Framework for Evaluating Alternatives. In Marvin Smith and Susan Wachter, Eds., The American Mortgage System: Rethink, Recover, Rebuild. Philadelphia, PA, University of Pennsylvania Press, forthcoming.
Ellen, Ingrid and Katherine O'Regan. Gentrification: Perspectives of Economists and Planners. In Nancy Brooks, Kieran Donaghy, and Gerrit Knaap, Eds., Handbook of Urban Economics and Planning.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming
Ellen, Ingrid and Katherine O'Regan. Exploring Changes in Low-Income Neighborhoods in the 1990s. In Harriet Newburger, Eugenia Birch and Susan Wachter, Eds., Neighborhood and Life Chances: How Place Matters in Modern America.  University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011, pp. 103-121.
Abstract

Problem: Policymakers and community development practitioners view increasing subsidized owner-occupied housing as a mechanism to improve urban neighborhoods, but little research studies the impact of such investments on community amenities.

Purpose: We examine the impact of subsidized owner-occupied housing on the quality of local schools and compare them to the impacts of city investments in rental units.

Methods: Using data from the New York City Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), we estimate three main sets of regressions, exploring student characteristics, school resources, and school outcomes.

Results and conclusions: The completion of subsidized owner-occupied housing is associated with a decrease in schools’ percentage of free-lunch eligible students, an increase in schools’ percentage of White students, and, controlling for these compositional changes, an increase in scores on standardized reading and math exams. By contrast, our results suggest that investments in rental housing have little, if any, effect.

Takeaway for practice: Policies promoting the construction of subsidized owner-occupied housing have solidified in local governments around the country. Our research provides reassurance to policymakers and planners who are concerned about the spillover effects of subsidized, citywide investments beyond the households being directly served. It suggests that benefits from investments in owner occupancy may extend beyond the individual level, with an increase in subsidized owner-occupancy bringing about improvements in neighborhood school quality.

Ellen, Ingrid and Vicki Been (eds.). Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research: Special Issue on Rental Housing. Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research

2010

Abstract

How to House the Homeless, editors Ingrid Gould Ellen and Brendan O’Flaherty propose that the answers entail rethinking how housing markets operate and developing more efficient interventions in existing service programs. The book critically reassesses where we are now, analyzes the most promising policies and programs going forward, and offers a new agenda for future research. How to House the Homeless makes clear the inextricable link between homelessness and housing policy. Contributor Jill Khadduri reviews the current residential services system and housing subsidy programs. For the chronically homeless, she argues, a combination of assisted housing approaches can reach the greatest number of people and, specifically, an expanded Housing Choice Voucher system structured by location, income, and housing type can more efficiently reach people at-risk of becoming homeless and reduce time spent homeless. Robert Rosenheck examines the options available to homeless people with mental health problems and reviews the cost-effectiveness of five service models: system integration, supported housing, clinical case management, benefits outreach, and supported employment. He finds that only programs that subsidize housing make a noticeable dent in homelessness, and that no one program shows significant benefits in multiple domains of life. Contributor Sam Tsemberis assesses the development and cost-effectiveness of the Housing First program, which serves mentally ill homeless people in more than four hundred cities. He asserts that the program’s high housing retention rate and general effectiveness make it a viable candidate for replication across the country. Steven Raphael makes the case for a strong link between homelessness and local housing market regulations—which affect housing affordability—and shows that the problem is more prevalent in markets with stricter zoning laws. Finally, Brendan O’Flaherty bridges the theoretical gap between the worlds of public health and housing research, evaluating the pros and cons of subsidized housing programs and the economics at work in the rental housing market and home ownership. Ultimately, he suggests, the most viable strategies will serve as safety nets—“social insurance”—to reach people who are homeless now and to prevent homelessness in the future. It is crucial that the links between effective policy and the whole cycle of homelessness—life conditions, service systems, and housing markets—be made clear now. With a keen eye on the big picture of housing policy, How to House the Homeless shows what works and what doesn’t in reducing the numbers of homeless and reaching those most at risk.

Abstract

We argue in this paper that neighborhoods are highly relevant for the types of issues at the heart of regional science. First, residential and economic activity takes place in particular locations, and particular neighborhoods. Many attributes of those neighborhood environments matter for this activity, from the physical amenities, to the quality of the public and private services received. Second, those neighborhoods vary in their placement in the larger region and this broader arrangement of neighborhoods is particularly important for location choices, commuting behavior and travel patterns. Third, sorting across these neighborhoods by race and income may well matter for educational and labor market outcomes, important components of a region's overall economic activity. For each of these areas we suggest a series of unanswered questions that would benefit from more attention. Focused on neighborhood characteristics themselves, there are important gaps in our understanding of how neighborhoods change - the causes and the consequences. In terms of the overall pattern of neighborhoods and resulting commuting patterns, this connects directly to current concerns about environmental sustainability and there is much need for research relevant to policy makers. And in terms of segregation and sorting across neighborhoods, work is needed on better spatial measures. In addition, housing market causes and consequences for local economic activity are under researched. We expand on each of these, finishing with some suggestions on how newly available data, with improved spatial identifiers, may enable regional scientists to answer some of these research questions.

Abstract

In the United States, public housing developments are predominantly located in neighborhoods with low median incomes, high rates of poverty and disproportionately high concentrations of minorities. While research consistently shows that public housing developments are located in economically and socially disadvantaged neighborhoods, we know little about the characteristics of the schools serving students in these neighborhoods.

In this paper, the authors examine the characteristics of elementary and middle schools attended by students living in public housing developments in New York City. Using the proportion of public housing students attending each elementary and middle school as their weight, they calculate the weighted average of school characteristics to describe the typical school attended by students living in public housing. They then compare these characteristics to those of the typical school attended by other students throughout the city in an effort to assess whether public schools systematically disadvantage students in public housing in New York City. 

Their  results are decidedly mixed. On one hand, they find no large differences between the resources of the schools attended by students living in public housing and the schools attended by their peers living elsewhere in the city; on the other hand, they find significant differences in student characteristics and outcomes. The typical school attended by public housing students has higher poverty rates and lower average performance on standardized exams than the schools attended by others. These school differences, however, fail to fully explain the performance disparities: they find that students living in public housing score lower, on average, on standardized tests than their schoolmates living elsewhere -- even though they attend the same school. These results point to a need for more nuanced analyses of policies and practices in schools, as well as the outside-of-school factors that shape educational success, to identify and address the needs of students in public housing.

Abstract

The ‘flight from blight' and related literatures on urban population changes and crime have primarily considered times of high or increasing crime rates. Perhaps the most cited recent work in this area, Cullen and Levitt (1999), does not extend through 1990s, a decade during which crime rates declined almost continuously, to levels that were lower than experienced in decades. This paper examines whether such declines contributed to city population growth and retention (abated flight). Through a series of population growth models that attempt to identify causality through several strategies (including instrumental variables) we find at best weak evidence that overall city growth is affected by changes in crime. We find no evidence that growth is differentially sensitive to reductions in crime, as compared to increases. Focusing more narrowly on within MSA migration, residential decisions that are more likely to be sensitive to local conditions, we do find evidence supporting abatement of ‘flight' - that is, lower levels of crime in central cities in the 1990s are associated with lower levels of migration to the suburbs. This greater ability to retain residents already in the city does not appear to be accompanied by a greater ability to attract new households from the suburbs, or from outside of the metropolitan area.

2009

Ellen, I.G. & O'Regan, K.. Crime and US Cities: Recent Patterns and Implications. Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science.  The Shape of the New American City.
Ellen, Ingrid, Amy Ellen Schwartz and Ioan Voicu.. The Impact of Business Improvement Districts on Property Values: Evidence from New York City. Brookings Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs, 2007: 1-39
Ellen, Ingrid, Vicki Been and Josiah Madar.. The High Cost of Segregation: Exploring Racial Disparities in High Cost Lending. Fordham Urban Law Journal, v.36, 361-93  
Abstract

The timing of this volume could not be more opportune. It is based on a 2007 conference to honor the work of Karl "Chip" Case, who is renowned for his scientific contributions to the economics of housing and public policy. The chapters analyze risk in the housing market, the regulation of housing markets by government, and other issues in U.S. housing policy. Chapters investigate derivative markets; the role that home equity insurance can play in reducing risk; the role that the regulation of government-sponsored enterprises has played in extending credit to home purchasers in low-income neighborhoods; and the growth in the market for subprime mortgages. The impact of local zoning regulations on housing prices and new construction is also considered. This is a must read during a time of restructuring our nation’s system of housing finance.

2008

Abstract

As the national mortgage crisis has worsened, an increasing number of communities are facing declining housing prices and high rates of foreclosure. Central to the call for government intervention in this crisis is the claim that foreclosures not only hurt those who are losing their homes to foreclosure, but also harm neighbors by reducing the value of nearby properties and in turn, reducing local governments’ tax bases. The extent to which foreclosures do in fact drive down neighboring property values has become a crucial question for policy-makers. In this paper, we use a unique dataset on property sales and foreclosure filings in New York City from 2000 to 2005 to identify the effects of foreclosure starts on housing prices in the surrounding neighborhood. Regression results suggest that above some threshold, proximity to properties in foreclosure is associated with lower sales prices. The magnitude of the price discount increases with the number of properties in foreclosure, but not in a linear relationship.

Abstract

The authors use a rich data set on New York City public elementary schools to explore how changes in immigrant representation have played out at the school level, providing a set of stylistic facts about the magnitude and nature of demographic changes in urban schools. They find that while the city experienced an overall increase in its immigrant representation over the 5 years studied, its elementary schools did not. Although the average school experienced little change during this period, a significant minority of schools saw sizable shifts. The change does not mirror the White flight and 'tipping' associated with desegregation but rather suggests a tendency to stabilize, with declines in immigrant enrollments concentrated in schools with larger immigrant populations at the outset. The authors also find that changes in the immigrant shares influence the composition of the school's students, and that overall school demographic changes do not mirror grade-level changes within schools.

Abstract

Segregation: The Rising Costs for America documents how discriminatory practices in the housing markets through most of the past century, and that continue today, have produced extreme levels of residential segregation that result in significant disparities in access to good jobs, quality education, homeownership attainment and asset accumulation between minority and non-minority households.The book also demonstrates how problems facing minority communities are increasingly important to the nations long-term economic vitality and global competitiveness as a whole. Solutions to the challenges facing the nation in creating a more equitable society are not beyond our ability to design or implement, and it is in the interest of all Americans to support programs aimed at creating a more just society.The book is uniquely valuable to students in the social sciences and public policy, as well as to policy makers, and city planners.

Abstract

Leading housing researchers build upon decades of experience, research, and evaluation to inform our understanding of the nations rental housing challenges and what can be done about them. It thoughtfully addresses not only present issues affecting rental housing, but also viable solutions.

Abstract

This paper offers new empirical evidence about the prospects of lower-income, US urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. Using the Neighborhood Change Database, which offers a balanced panel of census tracts with consistent boundaries from 1970 to 2000 for all metropolitan areas in the US, evidence is found of a significant shift in the fortunes of lower-income, urban neighbourhoods during the 1990s. There was a notable increase in the 1990s in the proportion of lower-income and poor neighbourhoods experiencing a gain in economic status. Secondly, in terms of geographical patterns, it is found that this upgrading occurred throughout the country, not just in selected regions or cities. Finally, it is found that the determinants of changes in lower-income, urban neighbourhoods shifted during the 1990s. In contrast to earlier decades, both the share of Blacks and the poverty rate were positively related to subsequent economic gain in these neighbourhoods during the 1990s.

Ellen, I.G., O'Regan, K. & Conger, D.. Dynamics of School Demographic Change: Immigrant Students and New York City. Education and Urban Society.
Abstract

The goal of this book, the first in a series, is to bring policymakers, practitioners, and scholars up to speed on the state of knowledge on various aspects of urban and regional policy. What do we know about the effectiveness of select policy approaches, reforms, or experiments on key social and economic problems facing cities, suburbs, and metropolitan areas? What can we say about what works, what doesn’t, and why? And what does this knowledge and experience imply for future policy questions?

The authors take a fresh look at several different issues (e.g., economic development, education, land use) and conceptualize how each should be thought of. Once the contributors have presented the essence of what is known, as well as the likely implications, they identify the knowledge gaps that need to be filled for the successful formulation and implementation of urban and regional policy.

2007

Abstract

Communities across New York City and around the nation commonly oppose proposals to open supportive housing in their neighborhoods because of fear that the housing will decrease the quality of life in the neighborhood, and lead to reductions in property values. This study aims to give supportive housing providers and local government officials the  objective, credible information they need to guide policy decisions and to respond to opponents' fears and arguments. Using a difference-in-difference regression model to isolate the effect of supportive housing from more general macro and micro market trends and neighborhood variations, this paper examines the impact that almost 14,000 units of supportive housing created in New York City over the past twenty five years have had on their host neighborhoods over time.

In a preliminary analysis, we find little evidence that supportive housing facilities diminish the value of surrounding properties. We find evidence that prices of properties surrounding supportive housing facilities are lower than comparable properties in the same neighborhood prior to the opening of the facility, and that this gap tends to narrow following the opening of a facility. Specifically, the preliminary analysis suggests that modestly-sized supportive housing developments (which are typical in New York City) may have small, positive impacts on neighboring property values, though these positive impacts decline as project size increases. Very large facilities may have negative impacts on the surrounding neighborhood.

 

Abstract

We examine the size and distribution of the gap in test scores across races within New York City public schools and the factors that explain these gaps. While gaps are partially explained by differences in student characteristics, such as poverty, differences in schools attended are also important. At the same time, substantial within-school gaps remain and are only partly explained by differences in academic preparation across students from different race groups. Controlling for differences in classrooms attended explains little of the remaining gap, suggesting little role for within-school inequities in resources. There is some evidence that school characteristics matter. Race gaps are negatively correlated with school size-implying small schools may be helpful. In addition, the trade-off between the size and experience of the teaching staff in urban schools may carry unintended consequences for within-school race gaps.

2002

Abstract

With recent advances in communications technology, telecommuting appears to be an increasingly viable option for many workers. For urban researchers, the key question is whether this growing ability to telecommute is altering residential location decisions and leading households to live in smaller, lower-density and more remote locations. Using the Work Schedules supplement from the 1997 Current Population Study, this paper explores this question. Specifically, it examines the prevalence of telecommuting, explores the relationship between telecommuting and the residential choices of white-collar workers and, finally, speculates about future impacts on residential patterns and urban form.

2000

Abstract

This paper outlines the race-based, neighbourhood projection hypothesis which holds that, in choosing neighbourhoods, households care less about present racial composition than they do about expectations about future neighbourhood conditions, such as school quality, property values and crime. Race remains relevant, however, since households tend to associate a growing minority presence with structural decline. Using a unique data-set that links households to their neighbourhoods, this paper estimates both exit and entry models and then constructs a simple simulation model that predicts the course of racial change in different communities. Doing so, the paper concludes that the empirical evidence is more consistent with the race-based projection hypothesis than with other common explanations for neighbourhood racial transition.

Abstract

This work looks at the state of racial integration in America's neighbourhoods, revealing that although many areas are integrated, many also unravel quickly. The author examines the root causes of these racial changes, arguing the case for modest government intervention. The first part of this book presents a fresh and encouraging report on the state of racial integration in America's neighbourhoods. It shows that while the majority are indeed racially segregated, a substantial and growing number are integrated, and remain so for years. Still, many integrated neighbourhoods do unravel quickly, and the second part of the book explores the root causes. Instead of panic and "white flight" causing the rapid breakdown of racially integrated neighbourhoods, the author argues, contemporary racial change is driven primarily by the decision of white households not to move into integrated neighbourhoods for reasons unrelated to race. Such "white avoidance" is largely based on the assumptions that integrated neighbourhoods quickly become all black and that the quality of life in them declines as a result. The author concludes that while this explanation may be less troubling than the more common focus on racial hatred and white flight, there is still a good case for modest government intervention to promote the stability of racially integrated neighbourhoods. The final chapter offers some guidelines for policymakers to follow in crafting effective policies.

Abstract

The rapid rise in immigration over the past few decades has transformed the American social landscape, while the need to understand its impact on society has led to a burgeoning research literature. Predominantly non-European and of varied cultural, social, and economic backgrounds, the new immigrants present analytic challenges that cannot be wholly met by traditional immigration studies. Immigration Research for a New Century demonstrate show sociology, anthropology, history, political science, economics, and other disciplines intersect to answer questions about today's immigrants. In Part I, leading scholars examine the emergence of an interdisciplinary body of work that incorporates such topics as the social construction of race, the importance of ethnic self-help and economic niches, the influence of migrant-homeland ties, and the types of solidarity and conflict found among migrant populations. The authors also explore the social and national origins of immigration scholars themselves, many of whom came of age in an era of civil rights and ethnic reaffirmation, and may also be immigrants or children of immigrants. Together these essays demonstrate how social change, new patterns of immigration, and the scholars' personal backgrounds have altered the scope and emphases of the research literature,allowing scholars to ask new questions and to see old problems in new ways. Part II contains the work of a new generation of immigrant scholars, reflecting the scope of a field bolstered by different disciplinary styles. These essays explore the complex variety of the immigrant experience, ranging from itinerant farmworkers to Silicon Valley engineers. The demands of the American labor force, ethnic, racial, and gender stereotyping, and state regulation are all shown to play important roles in the economic adaptation of immigrants. The ways in which immigrants participate politically, their relationships among themselves, their attitudes toward naturalization and citizenship, and their own sense of cultural identity are also addressed. Immigration Research for a New Century examines the complex effects that immigration has had not only on American society but on scholarship itself, and offers the fresh insights of a new generation of immigration researchers.

1998

Abstract

Part of a special section on stable racial integration. A study was conducted to examine the extent and stability of racial integration in the U.S. Findings indicated that although integrated neighborhoods containing blacks and whites are considerably less stable than more homogeneous communities, a majority remains integrated over time. In addition, integration appears to be growing more viable, with racially integrated communities having a higher probability of being stable during the 1980s than the 1970s.

1997

Abstract

Focuses on the author's idea of applying lessons learned from the experience of stable integrated neighborhoods to strengthen cities. Theories that explain why some mixed neighborhoods remain integrated; Testing the theory; Policy implications; How the real story about America's neighborhoods is less pessimistic and more dynamic than they tended to believe.