Poverty

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

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

Johanna Lacoe and Ingrid Gould Ellen
02/20/2015

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

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

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

Is neighbourhood destiny? Exploring the link between neighbourhood mobility and student outcomes

Is neighbourhood destiny? Exploring the link between neighbourhood mobility and student outcomes
Urban Studies. January 8, 2015. doi: 10.1177/0042098014563469

Sarah Cordes, Amy Ellen Schwartz, Leanna Stiefel and Jeffrey Zabel
01/08/2015

The notion that children from ‘good’ neighbourhoods are destined for success while those from ‘bad’ neighbourhoods are destined for failure has considerable popular appeal. Residential location is strongly linked to school quality, access to educated adults, exposure to violence, etc. There is, however, surprisingly little evidence on the link between the neighbourhood in which a child begins school and later schooling outcomes. Understanding early neighbourhood experiences is important for determining whether students are ‘stuck’ in neighbourhoods of disadvantage. It is also critical for determining the extent to which students who begin their schooling careers in disadvantaged neighbourhoods are destined for poor schooling outcomes, and conversely, whether changing neighbourhood context improves student performance. In this study, therefore, we document how students’ early neighbourhood and schooling experiences are related to later success in school, and explore how changing neighbourhood and school contexts explain differences in academic outcomes. Using data from New York City (NYC), we construct a panel containing all students enrolled as first graders in NYC public schools in 1996–1997, following them through academic years 2007–2008, which would be their 12th grade year if they made standard academic progress (annual one-grade promotion). Far from supporting the simplistic story of ‘dead-end’ neighbourhoods, our analyses describe a situation where students from poor neighbourhoods actually move more often than their peers in less disadvantaged neighbourhoods and are more likely to experience changes in neighbourhood and school quality, with 45.7% of neighbourhood moves from the poorest neighbourhoods being made to significantly higher quality neighbourhoods.

Assessment of a government-subsidized supermarket in a high-need area on household food availability and children's dietary intakes

Assessment of a government-subsidized supermarket in a high-need area on household food availability and children's dietary intakes

Brian Elbel, Alyssa Moran, L Beth Dixon. Kamila Kiszko, Jonathan Cantor, Courtney Abrams and Tod Mijanovich
01/07/2015

Objective: To assess the impact of a new government-subsidized supermarket in a
high-need area on household food availability and dietary habits in children.
Design: A difference-in-difference study design was utilized.
Setting: Two neighbourhoods in the Bronx, New York City. Outcomes were
collected in Morrisania, the target community where the new supermarket was
opened, and Highbridge, the comparison community.
Subjects: Parents/caregivers of a child aged 3–10 years residing in Morrisania
or Highbridge. Participants were recruited via street intercept at baseline (presupermarket
opening) and at two follow-up periods (five weeks and one year
post-supermarket opening).
Results: Analysis is based on 2172 street-intercept surveys and 363 dietary recalls
from a sample of predominantly low-income minorities. While there were small,
inconsistent changes over the time periods, there were no appreciable differences
in availability of healthful or unhealthful foods at home, or in children’s dietary
intake as a result of the supermarket.
Conclusions: The introduction of a government-subsidized supermarket into an
underserved neighbourhood in the Bronx did not result in significant changes in
household food availability or children’s dietary intake. Given the lack of healthful
food options in underserved neighbourhoods and need for programmes that
promote access, further research is needed to determine whether healthy food
retail expansion, alone or with other strategies, can improve food choices of
children and their families.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do Housing Choice Voucher Holders Live Near Good Schools

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

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

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

Is Micro Too Small? Microcredit vs. SME Finance

Is Micro Too Small? Microcredit vs. SME Finance
World Development 43: 288-297. 2013.

Bauchet, Jonathan and Jonathan Morduch
12/15/2013

Microcredit and SME finance are often pitched as alternative strategies to create employment opportunities in low-income communities. So far, though, little is known about how employment patterns compare. We integrate evidence from three surveys to show that, compared to Bangladeshi microcredit customers, typical SME employees in Bangladesh have more education and professional skills, and live in households that are notably less poor. SME jobs also require long work weeks, clashing with family responsibilities. The evidence from Bangladesh rejects the idea that SME finance more efficiently creates jobs for the population currently served by microcredit.

Medicaid's Next Metamorphosis

Medicaid's Next Metamorphosis
Public Administration Review, Vol 73, no. 4

Charles Brecher and Shanna Rose
08/20/2013

Medicaid’s transformation since its inception rivals the biological changes of metamorphosis, and that process is not yet over. Past metamorphoses are the change from a small program with eligibility linked to the states’ cash welfare benefits to one with national eligibility standards covering many not receiving cash benefits, from a traditional fee-for-service payment program to one dominated by capitated managed care arrangements, and under the ACA to a widely accepted component of a national system for near universal insurance coverage. An analysis of the forces behind these significant changes suggests that future transformations are likely, and four potential scenarios are presented and assessed.

The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence

The Impact of Microcredit on the Poor in Bangladesh: Revisiting the Evidence
Journal of Development Studies

David Roodman and Jonathan Morduch
06/03/2013

We replicate and reanalyse the most influential study of microcredit impacts (Pitt and Khandker, 1998). That study was celebrated for showing that microcredit reduces poverty, a much hoped-for possibility (though one not confirmed by recent randomized controlled trials). We show that the original results on poverty reduction disappear after dropping outliers, or when using a robust linear estimator. Using a new program for estimation of mixed process maximum likelihood models, we show how assumptions critical for the original analysis, such as error normality, are contradicted by the data. We conclude that questions about impact cannot be answered in these data.

How Microfinance Really Works

How Microfinance Really Works
The Milken Institute Review

Morduch, Jonathan
01/01/2013

About half of the world’s adults lack bank accounts. Most of these “unbanked” are deemed too expensive to serve, or not worth the hassle created by banking regulations. But what may be good business from a banker’s perspective isn’t necessarily what’s best for society. The inequalities that persist in financial access reinforce broader inequalities in the distribution of income and wealth. This is the opening for microfinance and also its challenge. Microlending has been sold as a practical means to get capital into the hands of small-scale entrepreneurs who can then earn their way out of poverty. The idea appeals to our impulse to help people help themselves and to our conviction that bottom-up development depends on the embrace of the market. By eschewing governments and traditional charities, the sector promises to sidestep the bureaucracy and inertia that have hobbled other attempts to expand the opportunities of the poor.

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