Poverty Concentration and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program: Effects of Siting and Tenant Composition

Ingrid G. Ellen, Keren M. Horn, and Katherine M. O'Regan
Journal of Housing Economics, 34 (December 2016), pp. 49-59.

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.