Housing Policy Debate

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Print ISSN: 1051-1482
Housing affordability in the United States is generally operationalized using the ratio approach, with those allocating more than thirty percent of income to shelter costs considered to have housing affordability challenges. Alternative standards have been developed that focus on residual income, whether income remaining after housing expenditures is sufficient to meet non-housing needs. This study employs Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey data to consider racial/ethnic, nativity and legal status differences in one residual income standard. Logistic regression analyses of housing-induced poverty focus on whether there are differences among five distinct groups: U.S.born Latinos, Non-Hispanic Whites, and African Americans, authorized Latino immigrants, and unauthorized Latino immigrants. Results suggest that: 1) Latino natives are significantly more likely to be in housing-induced poverty than African Americans and Latino immigrants, and 2) unauthorized Latino immigrants are not more likely to experience the outcome than other groups. The present work extends previous research. First, the results provide additional evidence of the value of operationalizing housing affordability using a residual income standard. Alternatives to the ratio approach deserve more empirical attention from a wider range of scholars and policymakers interested in housing affordability. Second, housing scholarship to date generally differentiates among Latinos by ethnicity, nativity, and citizenship. The present study contributes to emerging research investigating heterogeneity among Latinos by nativity and legal status.
This article evaluates problems of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) under its current structure, develops criteria for judging alternative structures, and suggests one alternative—an assigned risk pool—that encourages efficiency in the insurance function while still promoting low‐ and moderate‐income housing. A historical introduction explains how the current institutional relationships came about and created FHA's problems.FHA's decline resulted from the mixing of a heavy social agenda with the basic insurance objective, a destructive reorganization of the Department of Housing and Urban Development that caused FHA to lose control and focus, and government's inherent inability to respond to market signals. Yet the economic rationale for government involvement in FHA functions is strong. An FHA organized as an independent government agency, a government‐sponsored enterprise, or even a privatized entity structured as an assigned risk pool could improve efficiency of underwriting, pricing, and administration while achieving the redistributional objectives.
Model Variables
Sample Statistics
Prior research has found negative impacts of public housing on neighborhood quality. Few studies have examined the impact of public and other assisted housing programs on real estate prices, particularly differential impact by program type. In this study, federally assisted housing units by program type are aggregated by 1/8- or 1/4-mile radii around individual property sales and regressed on sales prices from 1989 through 1991, controlling for area demographic, housing, and amenity variables. Results show that public housing developments exert a modest negative impact on property values. Scattered-site public housing and units rented with Section 8 certificates and vouchers have slight negative impacts. Federal Housing Administration–assisted units, public housing homeownership program units, and Section 8 New Construction and Rehabilitation units have modest positive impacts. Low-Income Housing Tax Credit sites have a slight negative effect. Results suggest that homeownership programs and new construction/rehabilitation programs have a more positive impact on property values.
A significant change in the finance of social housing in the 1980s was a movement to transfer responsibility for funding to the private sector. This article argues that governments must continue to be involved in social housing finance as this movement progresses. Financing initiatives undertaken in Australia are used to signal the risks associated with the provision of social housing finance, to illustrate the mechanisms employed to manage these risks, and to highlight the conflicts that arise when a mix of public and private funding is attempted. The article proposes the introduction of ?equity bonds? as an innovative way to raise funds for social housing and to overcome inefficiencies arising from the present complex and costly administrative structures. However, a commitment to ongoing subsidies to close the full rental gap is necessary for equity bonds to serve those most in need.
In this study, we present an analysis of the impacts of high tech economic growth on the incidence of critical housing problems among all households and among moderateincome working families in major metropolitan areas. We rely on data from the 1999 American Housing Survey, supplemented with data from the State of the Cities 2000, Landis and Elmer (2001), and Burby et al. (2000). Overall, we found that the level of high tech activity impacts, positively and significantly, the incidence of critical housing problems for all households and for moderate-income working households, regardless of tenure. Consistent with anecdotal information about the problems of working families, we found stronger impacts on moderate-income working households than on all households. We conclude that housing policy should be broadened to address the problems of working families as well as those of the poor, especially when dealing with problems arising from rapid economic growth.
Descriptive Statistics of Variables Used
Santa Clara County House Price Forecast with Fundamentals Model
Santa Clara County has recently had the highest house prices of any large housing market in the nation. Part of the explanation lies in the extraordinarily low user cost of housing caused by the interaction of high incomes and the tax deductions available to homeowners. But this article also evaluates whether changes in stock wealth have been responsible for the recent increase in housing prices in Santa Clara County. Although three different stock market measures add explanatory power to a model of housing prices in the region, none of these indexes predicts the housing price increases seen in 1999 and 2000. In fact, the within‐sample models have .R‐squares of only 0.22, and even the best model (based on the Standard & Poor's 500) does not forecast well out of sample. Still, the market is unusual in that stock prices seem to have some impact on house prices.
During the 1990s, minorities played an increasing role in population growth throughout the United States. Fueled by international migration and by high natural increase, Asians and Hispanics have joined with blacks to greatly elevate minority contributions to population and household growth at almost every geographic level. In addition to racial and ethnic turnover, households have been changing compositionally because of the aging of the population and because of the increase in the number of unmarried adults. This article surveys these and other demographic changes and examines their implications for household growth and housing consumption. A clearer understanding of both white and minority roles in owner and renter housing trends is developed through tracking changing consumption patterns. Distinct patterns of cohort turnover have taken place in different vintage housing stock. These trends, which have led to large net gains for minorities, are expected to continue over the next decade and beyond.
This article presents a case study of the inter-organizational network that formed to produce four housing projects in Cleveland's EcoVillage designed to integrate social equity and ecological stewardship as the basis for neighborhood redevelopment. Our paper builds on concepts of community development and housing production through inter-organizational networks spanning nonprofit, public, and private organizations that developed and supported four green and affordable housing projects. We are interested in understanding how development of the housing projects changed and connected traditional neighborhood development and ecologically-oriented organizations and how their interaction changed the practice of housing production and environmental and sustainability advocacy locally and regionally. The results of the study reveal that the marriage of green and affordable housing in Cleveland, despite some challenges, was viewed as important and beneficial by the organizations involved, and resulted in a range of demonstration projects that not only changed the EcoVillage, but affected other neighborhood housing projects in Cleveland as well. The projects resulted in enhanced capacity for green housing production through creation of a new network of organizations spanning the housing and environmental sustainability fields of practice that continues to support sustainable housing and neighborhood development in Cleveland.
Characteristics of Baltimore's First-Tier Suburban Neighborhoods, 2000
PCA Scores for Baltimore's First-Tier Suburban Neighborhoods
Typology of Baltimore's First-Tier Suburban Neighborhoods, 1970 and 2000  
Distribution of Cluster Cases in Baltimore's First-Tier Suburban Neighborhoods, 1970 and 2000
The evolution of first‐tier suburbs has emerged as an important topic of scholarly and popular attention in the past decade, yet little is known about the diversity of neighborhood spatial structure. This article analyzes data on 152 census tracts in 21 first‐tier suburban census designated places in metropolitan Baltimore. A total of 49 socioeconomic variables are used to measure the population, income dynamics, nature of the housing, and structure of the labor force. The analysis provides evidence of spatial restructuring in 1970 and 2000. The racial composition, socioeconomic status, occupation, and nature of the housing stock differentiate the spatial structure of Baltimore's first‐tier suburban neighborhoods from one another over time. A typology of five neighborhoods in 1970 and six in 2000 is derived from a partitional clustering procedure that groups principal components analysis scores. The policy implications of suburban diversity and decline are discussed.
For most cities, the possibility of transforming unused property into community and city assets is as yet hypothetical. Fiscal constraints limit the amount of land acquisition, relocation, and demolition that cities can undertake. Private investors, unsure of which neighborhoods have a chance of becoming self-sustaining, are reluctant to take risks in untested markets. Cities need to create citywide planning strategies for land aggregation and neighborhood stabilization and to develop analyses of the risks and opportunities associated with redevelopment opportunities in specific markets. Research seems sorely needed. Although the policy world cannot and will not stand still waiting for academics to design the perfect study or to collect all the data to model the potential effects of various policy options and investments, analysis that can play a more immediately supportive role can and should be done now.
This article discusses the opportunistic and abusive behavior of some servicers of residential mortgages toward the borrowers whose loans they service. Such abuse includes claiming that borrowers are in default and attempting to foreclose even when payments are current, force-placing insurance even when borrowers already have a policy, and mishandling escrow funds. The causes of such practices and the market forces that can rein them in are discussed. A case study of one mortgage servicer describes its unfair treatment of borrowers and the reforms imposed by federal regulators and other market participants. Both regulatory agencies and rating agencies appear to have increased their scrutiny of servicers' behavior, and states have passed new legislation to limit abuse. This article concludes with a discussion of proposals for further reform should these steps prove inadequate.
A key concern among policymakers and community developers in recent years has been the extent to which lender-owned homes, often called real estate owned or “REO” properties accumulate in different local housing markets during the mortgage crisis. This paper describes the accumulation of REO properties in 356 metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) from August 2006 to August 2008. It examines differences in both changes and static levels of REO activity across MSAs and compares changes in REO levels to changes in home values over the same period. Special attention is paid to twelve large MSAs with substantial levels of REO as of August 2008. A model of REO volume at the metropolitan level is estimated which includes differences in state foreclosure legal processes and timing among the independent variables. Finally, cluster analysis is used to identify a simple typology of MSAs based on REO levels and home price changes.
Area Characteristics by Distance to New Subdivision and Time: Means and Analyses of Variance
Significant Relationships between Incivilities and Crime (Models A through C)  
Longitudinal Relationships between Litter and Crime  
Concepts deriving from criminology, housing policy, and environmental psychology are integrated to test two ways that housing conditions could relate to crime in a declining first-ring suburb of Salt Lake City. For existing housing, we use a model to test whether housing incivilities, such as litter and unkempt lawns, are associated with later crime. For new housing, we test whether a new subdivision on a former brownfield creates spillover reductions in nearby crime and incivilities. Police-reported crime rates were highest for residences near the brownfield and lowest for those farther away. After the subdivision was constructed, this linear decline disappeared, reflecting less crime adjacent to the new subdivision, but also more crime farther away. A multilevel analysis shows that incivilities, particularly litter and unkempt lawns on the block, predict unexpected increases in crime. Both brownfield redevelopment and reductions in incivilities may be important ways to improve declining suburban areas. Journal Article
This study investigates hypotheses regarding the association of census tract variables with the risk for homelessness. We used prior address information reported by families entering emergency shelters in two large U.S. cities to characterize the nature of that distribution. Three dense clusters of homeless origins were found in Philadelphia and three in New York City, accounting for 67 percent and 61 percent of shelter admissions and revealing that homeless families’ prior addresses are more highly concentrated than the poverty distribution in both cities. The rate of shelter admission is strongly and positively related to the concentration of poor, African-American, and female-headed households with young children in a neighborhood. It is also correlated with fewer youth, elderly, and immigrants. Such areas have higher rates of unemployment and labor force nonparticipation, more housing crowding, more abandonment, higher rates of vacancy, and higher rent-to-income ratios than other areas.
The homeownership rate rose from 65% in 1995 to 69% in 2005, yet this rise appears difficult to sustain. We argue that the development of new shared equity mortgages (SEMs) that blur the lines between debt and equity would propel further advances in homeownership. The rationale for these mortgages is that the broad financial markets values shares in individual housing returns higher than do hard-pressed prospective homeowners. We describe a new class of SEM and provide survey evidence that the majority of households would prefer these SEMs over interest only and other currently popular mortgages. Financial simulations confirm the value of the securitized SEMs to investors. We present "back of the envelope" computations suggesting an increase in the overall U.S. homeownership of rate of between 1% and 1.5% would be the likely result of development of SEM markets.
Homeownership Rates for Young Adults of Different Races and Hispanic Origin, United States, 1980 to 2000 (in Percents)
Weighted Regression of the Homeownership Rate at Age 35 to 44, by Race and Hispanic Origin, 100 Largest Metropolitan Areas
In contrast to the 1980s, we find substantial increases in the homeownership rates of young adults in the 1990s. Focusing on the younger half of the baby boom generation, aged 35 to 44 in 2000, we explore the factors that caused steeper trajectories into homeownership in some metropolitan areas. Factors include prices and incomes, housing construction relative to employment growth, and rates of household formation and immigration. Homeownership gains are modeled separately for whites, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. Our findings highlight the importance of household formation on regional homeownership rates. Evidence shows greater homeownership gains in areas with greater rent increases, indicating lower relative costs of owning, and with greater price increases, indicating greater investment incentives. Our findings also underscore the importance of keeping housing construction consistent with employment growth. Finally, the effect of immigration was especially important for Hispanics, sharply depressing homeownership in regions with more recently arrived immigrants.
The purpose of this paper is to determine the impact of real estate agents on the price of houses that are located close to an environmental disamenity. Our main hypothesis is that real estate agents obtain higher prices than those theoretically expected when the houses are located closer to an environmental disamenity. We attribute this result to agents’ ability to effectively match potential buyers to house sellers as well as their influence on bargaining power. Estimates from a sample selection corrected hedonic model suggest that the percentage increase in the house price obtained by a real estate agent is greater than the commission rate.
Sam pled M etropolitan Areas
AHS Q uestions Analyzed
Structure M atrix from D iscrim inant A nalysis
C lassification R esults
A significant amount of research has concentrated on the process of urban decentralization. Resulting patterns of urban development have far-reaching effects on land use, transportation, regional fiscal structure, public services and facilities, economic development, and social equity. Because planning processes are being developed to attempt to revitalize the urban core, it is important to know which households may be deciding to relocate to the central cities and why. A discriminant analysis is used to explore the similarities and differences among movers to central cities and suburban locations drawn from metropolitan samples of the 1989 through 1991 American Housing Surveys. The analysis compares the reasons for relocation, demographic differences, and metropolitan characteristics between central-city-to-suburb movers and suburb-to-central-city movers. The results indicate that these two groups are very similar in some respects and that some metropolitan-area characteristics may play a role in urban residential decentralization patterns. journal article
This article describes the way in which the government of the United Kingdom has implemented the policy of privatization with respect to housing since coming to power in 1979. It details the main elements and diversity of the policy; it evaluates the results in terms of tenure change, allocation of housing services, prices, and investment; it examines the emerging problems of affordability and access; and it suggests that there have been considerable benefits from both privatization and deregulation in terms of greater efficiency and responsiveness.However, it also stresses the extent to which government involvement in housing, although undoubtedly shifting away from direct provision, has reemerged through both income‐related and supply subsidies to other landlords. The article concludes that in the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, the provision of adequate housing for all is still regarded as a government responsibility.
Two issues have recently attracted increasing attention in the literature on New Urbanist-type, higher-density, mixed-use neighborhoods: whether there is a direct causal link between the characteristics of the built environment and personal travel behavior and what kind of people want to live in New Urbanist developments. We apply logit modeling to data from the San Francisco Bay Area to analyze how predispositions toward travel and land use affect the choice of residential neighborhood type. We control for sociodemographics, personality/lifestyle, and auto availability. The findings suggest that people opt for higher-density living in part because they are concerned about the environment and want to reduce their auto travel and because higher-density living makes it easier to benefit from commuting to work. Lower-density living is chosen in part because it is better geared to fast, flexible, and comfortable auto travel and makes it easier to display cars as status symbols.
Because homelessness assistance programs are designed to help families, it is important for policymakers and practitioners to understand how families experiencing homelessness make housing decisions, particularly when they decide not to use available services. This study explores those decisions using in-depth qualitative interviews with 80 families recruited in shelters across four sites approximately six months after they were assigned to one of four conditions (permanent housing subsidies, project-based transitional housing, community-based rapid re-housing, and usual care). Familiar neighborhoods near children's schools, transportation, family and friends, and stability were important to families across conditions. Program restrictions on eligibility constrained family choices. Subsidized housing was the most desired intervention and families leased up at higher rates than in other studies of poor families. Respondents were least comfortable in and most likely to leave transitional housing. Uncertainty associated with community-based rapid re-housing generated considerable anxiety. Across interventions, many families had to make unhappy compromises, often leading to further moves. Policy recommendations are offered.
Sprawl Rankings for Major Metropolitan Areas 
Mean Housing Consumption Differentials by Race and Metropolitan Sprawl Level 
Housing Consumption Regressions for White Households 
Predicted Housing Consumption by Sprawl Level 
Unplanned suburban growth imposes social costs such as congestion, pollution, and open space reduction. Anti-sprawl policies are being adopted in fast growing metropolitan areas. This paper explores one potential benefit of sprawl. Sprawl increases housing affordability and this may contribute to reducing the black/white housing consumption gap. This paper uses 1997 American Housing Survey data to measure housing consumption for blacks and whites in more and less sprawled metropolitan areas. In sprawled areas, black households do consume larger units and are more likely to own homes relative to black households who live in less sprawled areas.
This article presents a methodology for using county tax assessor records and other geographic information system and secondary source data to develop realistic estimates of community, county, and statewide infill housing potential in California. We first identify the number, acreage, average size, and spatial distribution of vacant and potentially redevelopable parcels within three types of infill counting areas. We then develop a schema for determining appropriate infill housing densities based on transit service availability, local land use mix and character, and initial neighborhood densities. We use this schema to generate local, county, and statewide estimates of infill housing potential. These are then carefully evaluated in terms of their parcel size and financial feasibility, the likelihood that construction will displace existing low-income renters, and the contribution to cumulative overdevelopment. We conclude with a brief discussion of state-level policy changes that would reduce barriers to market-led infill housing construction.
This paper estimates, for 7 cities, a model of prime versus subprime allocation of loans in 1997 and 2002 based on both individual loan and neighborhood attributes. The paper is directly interested in the effect of neighborhood racial and ethnic composition on the likelihood of receiving a subprime loan. The paper also allows for interaction of borrower race and ethnicity with neighborhood attributes. A unique feature of the paper is that it provides additional neighborhood controls for the aggregate level of credit risk and the neighborhood level of equity risk. The paper finds some evidence for tightening loan standards over the 5-year period in the subprime market. In both years, even with risk controls, the minority share of neighborhood is consistently significant and positively related to subprime share. Furthermore, neighborhood education level is consistently significant and negatively related to subprime lending.
This comment describes the barriers to preventive servicing for securitized residential loans and assesses the importance of loan modifications, given the recent increases in default and foreclosure rates for subprime loans. Several hurdles slow or reduce such modifications, even those that help borrowers and investors alike. For example, self-interest may reduce servicers' willingness to modify loans rapidly.In addition, underlying securitization agreements may impede servicers' ability and discretion in this area. Further, tax laws that govern a common securitization entity may limit modifications, as may accounting standards. Finally, "tranche warfare," the sometimes contradictory fiduciary duties servicers have toward investors holding different tranches of securitized pools, may decrease their ability or their willingness to modify loans.This comment concludes that barriers to effective loan modifications should be reduced or eliminated where feasible, but that the securitization of subprime loans creates risks for borrowers.
Homeownership counseling encompasses several educational activities. Early approaches focused on reducing the risk of default and foreclosure among participants in government‐assisted mortgage programs, but more recent approaches have focused on increasing homeownership opportunities among low‐income and minority households. Unfortunately, little is known about the effectiveness of these approaches in terms of the number of new homeowners and the mitigation of default risk. To address that gap, this article presents a theoretical and methodological framework to evaluate counseling efforts. A successful counseling program is defined as one that assists a household with a low long‐term probability of ownership in buying a home and reducing its default risk. We concede that the methodological requirements for evaluating counseling are somewhat restrictive. However, if we establish an evaluation procedure using these goals as a framework, we can more accurately determine the effects of counseling on the sustainability of low‐income homeownership.
The primary federal policy responses to the foreclosure crisis have included programs to reduce foreclosures as well as efforts to mitigate the impacts of foreclosures on neighborhoods and communities. This paper reviews policy responses since 2007 in both of these categories. While there is less information at this point on the outcomes of mitigation polices, the overall federal response is found to be lacking thus far. At least in comparison to the magnitude of the challenges, the programs have been modest in scale. They have also suffered from significant problems of design and implementation. Foreclosure prevention efforts, in particular, are faulted for being too reliant on marginal incentive payments, for failing to include a key policy (bankruptcy modification) that would have encouraged lenders to modify loans more aggressively, and for not sanctioning servicers more aggressively for poor performance or noncompliance. The federal response is also characterized as moving too slowly in some cases and being too captive to the structures and policy preferences of the mortgage and financial services industry.
Summary of Descriptive and Nonparametric Hypothesis Tests
Summary Cluster Analysis Results
Market Segmentation Regression Results
As American cities spill over their traditional boundaries into 'exurbia', the debate about whether this new growth is substantively different from what preceded is an important one. We disagree with the idea that the counterurbanization the United States is experiencing represents a dramatic break from previous growth patterns. Using parametric and nonparametric analysis, we examine whether or not the behavioral patterns and demographic characteristics of exurbanites differ from those of suburbanites. Is exurbanization really different from suburbanization and are exurbanites really different from suburbanites? Our research shows that the answer is no. Exurbia should not be defined separately from suburbia. Rather, the development on the metropolitan fringe is simply the latest incarnation of the continued suburbanization of American cities. journal article
Congress passed the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) in 1974 based upon documented instances of kickbacks between settlement service providers, unearned fees, and expensive and unnecessary closing costs paid by buyers and sellers of residential real estate. It opted for a disclosure strategy accompanied by few substantive prohibitions. Over the last thirty-five years, only a handful of studies attempted to measure the success of the mortgage loan disclosures. This article uses a uniquely rich database to examine this question. We find evidence that closing costs increased since 1972 and fee types proliferated. The early cost estimate underestimated the final closing costs and projected cash to borrowers in a majority of cases, lending credence to complaints of baiting and switching. These observations call into question the efficacy of the RESPA disclosure scheme. Further, they point to the need for detailed data collection, routine monitoring of whether RESPA is meeting its legislative intent, and rigorous debate about whether RESPA’s goals can be achieved more effectively by another strategy. This article is particularly timely because Congress instructed the new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to combine RESPA and related Truth in Lending Act disclosures into a single, integrated form over the next year.
Median Housing Prices in Selected Large MSAs, 2000  
Dot-Com Firms per Thousand Jobs in Selected Large MSAs, 1998  
Correlation Coefficients Comparing New Economy Indexes
and 2 compare 1998 median existing home prices by metropolitan statistical area (MSA) with the number of dot-com firms per worker-one measure of new economy activity. The two figures are nearly identical. To what extent is this coincidence?
This article explores the effects of metropolitan industrial structure on housing market outcomes. Housing prices in new economy metropolitan areas are found to be higher, peakier, and more volatile than in old economy markets. Homeownership rates are found to be lower in new economy metropolitan areas, while crowding is higher. Although the distribution of housing values, costs, and rents was more equal in new economy markets, the cause would seem to be differences in area income levels, with poorer metropolitan statistical areas having greater inequalities. Regression analysis is used to identify the contribution of traditional supply and demand factors, such as job growth, income, and residential construction, as well as new economy indicators, to housing market outcomes. Rather than being fundamentally different, new economy housing markets are found to be faster and more extreme versions of traditional housing markets.
Cluster Statistics for Family Shelter Stay Patterns in New York City, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and Columbus, OH, with Episodes Defined as Ending with a 30-Day Gap in Shelter Use 
Demographic Characteristics by Cluster for Family Shelter Users in New York City, Philadelphia, Columbus, OH, and Massachusetts 
Histories of Intensive Behavioral Health and/or Social Services Use by Cluster for Family Shelter Users in Philadelphia, New York City, Columbus, OH, and Massachusetts 
This study tests a typology of family homelessness based on patterns of public shelter utilization and examines whether family characteristics are associated with those patterns. The results indicate that a substantial majority of homeless families stay in public shelters for relatively brief periods, exit, and do not return. Approximately 20 percent stay for long periods. A small but noteworthy proportion cycles in and out of shelters repeatedly. In general, families with long stays are no more likely than families with short stays to have intensive behavioral health treatment histories, to be disabled, or to be unemployed. Families with repeat stays have the highest rates of intensive behavioral health treatment, placement of children in foster care, disability, and unemployment. The results suggest that policy and program factors, rather than family characteristics, are responsible for long shelter stays. An alternative conceptual framework for providing emergency assistance to homeless families is discussed.
Cluster Statistics for Family Shelter Stay Patterns in New York City, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, and Columbus, OH, with Episodes Defined as Ending with a 30-Day Gap in Shelter Use 
Demographic Characteristics by Cluster for Family Shelter Users in New York City, Philadelphia, Columbus, OH, and Massachusetts 
Histories of Intensive Behavioral Health and/or Social Services Use by Cluster for Family Shelter Users in Philadelphia, New York City, Columbus, OH, and Massachusetts 
This study tests a typology of family homelessness based on patterns of public shelter utilization and examines whether family characteristics are associated with those patterns. The results indicate that a substantial majority of homeless families stay in public shelters for relatively brief periods, exit, and do not return. Approximately 20 percent stay for long periods. A small but noteworthy proportion cycles in and out of shelters repeatedly. In general, families with long stays are no more likely than families with short stays to have intensive behavioral health treatment histories, to be disabled, or to be unemployed. Families with repeat stays have the highest rates of intensive behavioral health treatment, placement of children in foster care, disability, and unemployment. The results suggest that policy and program factors, rather than family characteristics, are responsible for long shelter stays. An alternative conceptual framework for providing emergency assistance to homeless families is discussed.
This article assesses the impact of public investment in supportive housing for homeless persons with severe mental disabilities. Data on 4,679 people placed in such housing in New York City between 1989 and 1997 were merged with data on the utilization of public shelters, public and private hospitals, and correctional facilities. A series of matched controls who were homeless but not placed in housing were similarly tracked.Regression results reveal that persons placed in supportive housing experience marked reductions in shelter use, hospitalizations, length of stay per hospitalization, and time incarcerated. Before placement, homeless people with severe mental illness used about $40,451 per person per year in services (1999 dollars). Placement was associated with a reduction in services use of $16,281 per housing unit per year. Annual unit costs are estimated at $17,277, for a net cost of $995 per unit per year over the first two years.
Asset bubbles come and go. Only the housing bubble, however, brought the economy to its knees. Why? What makes housing uniquely a cause of macroeconomic risk? This Article examines the workings of the housing market as well as theories and empirical evidence about the housing bubble. It explains why housing is a particular source of macroeconomic risk and how changes in the housing finance channel were the critical element in the formation of the bubble.
Variables included in the binary logit model 
This article addresses two questions about spatial barriers to welfare-to-work transition in the United States. First, what residential and transportation adjustments do welfare recipients tend to make as they try to become economically self-sufficient? Second, do these adjustments actually increase the probability that they will become employed? Analysis of 1997-2000 panel data on housing location and automobile ownership for Milwaukee welfare recipients reveals two tendencies: (1) to relocate to neighborhoods with less poverty and more racial integration and (2) to obtain a car. Results from binary logit models indicate that residential relocation and car ownership both increase the likelihood that welfare recipients will become employed. These findings suggest that policies should aim to facilitate residential mobility for low-income families and improve their neighborhoods, rather than simply move them closer to job opportunities. The findings also suggest a critical role for transportation policy in reducing unemployment. Journal Article
The policy debate surrounding predatory lending laws and the subprime mortgage market opposes two hypotheses. The first is that an efficient market is providing broader access to credit, offering mortgages with higher rates and fees to higher risk borrowers, and that prices relate directly to the added risk. The contrary hypothesis is that high interest rates and loan fees are charged in the subprime market well in excess of the risk-related costs. A number of readily observed facts about the subprime mortgage market support the opportunity pricing hypothesis. Existing research includes simple descriptive price information, papers inferring a correlation between high prices and high risk of credit loss from observed default rates, theoretical discussions to explain the observed pricing dispersion, and studies trying to determine whether laws that indirectly restrict mortgage prices have reduced the supply of mortgage credit. Information asymmetries, seller obfuscation and search costs contribute to the observed inefficiencies in this market, and suggest several policy responses.
The Section 108 program operates the loan guarantee portion of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Specifically, Section 108 allows CDBG grantees to transform a portion of their CDBG funds into federally guaranteed loans large enough to pursue physical and economic revitalization projects that can renew entire neighborhoods. This article presents findings from an analysis of Section 108 projects funded in fiscal years 2002–2007, including financing details, funded activities, and project outcomes. The study is designed to answer the following three core issues: (1) What types of projects are being funded, and what is the nature of those projects? (2) How are Section 108 projects funded, and how are they repaid? (3) What outcomes did the investments produce? In sum, the study team found that Section 108 is an important tool for community development because it allows jurisdictions to pursue larger projects with outcomes that cannot be funded through annual CDBG grants; yet, the complexity and size of Section 108 projects mean that local capacity and support are vital to the successful planning and completion of these projects.
The COVID-19 pandemic mortgage forbearance programs are valuable, providing relief to approximately 2 million homeowners. At the same time, aggressive Federal Reserve intervention has decreased mortgage rates substantially, encouraging refinancing. However, mortgage rates remain elevated, as the industry is capacity constrained, and mortgage underwriting has become more restrictive, limiting the potential gains to borrowers from the Fed’s actions. This article proposes a streamlined refinance program for Federal mortgages. We estimate the impact of this program, showing that it would reduce mortgage defaults by allowing approximately 3 million families to refinance, who would otherwise be unable to do so because of tight underwriting requirements. It would also provide a further stimulus of $53 billion per year to the economy.
Hotel housing was an intervention implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce the spread of the virus among people experiencing homelessness. Individuals living in congregate shelter or unsheltered settings in New Haven, Connecticut, were relocated into two hotels at the start of the pandemic. In this paper we characterize and explore the experiences of 18 individuals who were moved to hotels. Participants shared that the hotels, as opposed to other settings, provided stability through having a consistent room, access to important amenities, and a sense of privacy and safety. This allowed individuals to gain more control in their lives and make changes that benefitted their health and well-being. The findings suggest that the model of shelter utilized during the pandemic may have important benefits for supporting people who are experiencing homelessness.
This article examines the distribution of conditional rezonings for residential development in Henrico County, Virginia, from 1978 through 2015. It finds that prior to the mid-1990s, racial characteristics, relative to homeownership, income, and educational characteristics, most markedly distinguish the census tracts where the county approved conditional rezonings for residential development: both from tracts where it approved rezonings without conditions and from the county as a whole. The study uses evidence from planning commission minutes and interviews to explore the reasons for this disparity, arguing that it likely resulted from a combination of developers’ perceptions and the historically differing extent of political representation and advocacy between white and African American communities. The study thus provides further evidence of racial disparities in the geography of zoning practice, although it also explains that the reasons for these disparities are far from straightforward.
This article presents an analysis of the factors that predicted 1989 homelessness rates in large U.S. cities. Data were collected to describe homelessness rates in the 182 cities with populations over 100,000. In addition, variables were assembled to represent many factors that have been hypothesized to cause homelessness, including each city's housing and income conditions, household resources, employment conditions, employment structure, available public benefits, and cost of living. The researcher used regression analysis to assess the impact of each hypothesized causal factor on between‐city differences in 1989 homelessness rates for the 147 primary cities in the data set (excluding suburbs) and for subgroup breakouts based on level of manufacturing employment and population growth from 1980 to 1986. The article ends with a discussion of policy implications of the patterns discovered.
Inequality in both income and wealth has grown rapidly in the United States since the 1970s. Over the same period, homeownership rates increased in step with expansionist government policies and the development of subprime and other exotic loan products, and housing affordability challenges emerged as the most prevalent housing problem for owners and renters alike. The subprime lending and foreclosure crises of the 2000s stretched households financially, threatening the traditional economic benefits of homeownership, bringing into stark relief the ways in which housing and inequality mutually influence one another, and implicating homeownership, housing affordability, and subprime lending in the widening gap between the rich and the poor. This article examines the changing roles of homeownership, housing affordability, and subprime lending in contemporary U.S. inequality by, first, describing trends in county inequality and housing characteristics and, second, modeling inequality as a function of the previous decade's housing characteristics over the period of 1980–2010. We build upon past models of county inequality by more explicitly considering causal order, place characteristics, and state and regional fixed effects. The results confirm that homeownership, affordability, and subprime lending not only reflect existing inequalities but also perpetuate those inequalities over time. Homeownership promotes equality, affordability problems undermine it, and subprime lending has the potential to ameliorate inequality in certain contexts, but these effects shift significantly over time, particularly as a result of widespread foreclosures and economic recession. Our analysis establishes the importance of housing in explaining contemporary inequality, highlights how place characteristics and causal ordering may improve county inequality models, and provides a foundation for future studies examining inequality in light of the Great Recession and the foreclosure crisis.
As housing production was ramping up in the 1990s and 2000s, some of the industry’s largest firms experienced remarkable growth primarily through mergers and acquisitions and the issuance of debt; the market share of the 10 largest firms tripled between 1995 and 2005. This article describes the role of financial firms in encouraging that growth and some of its consequences. Drawing on financial filings, news reports, investor analyses, and other relevant data, this article offers an overview of the relationship between homebuilders and investment firms, as well as a new explanation of the oversupply of housing in the 2000s. In doing so, this article seeks to bring attention to homebuilders as a missing feature in analyses of housing supply and housing markets, and proposes directions for future research.
Public housing is a key federal investment, yet it has suffered severe underfunding and decay. HOPE VI sought to transform public housing by improving housing quality, deconcentrating poverty, and enhancing economic opportunities. Using rigorous quasi-experimental methods and an array of geocoded annual national administrative data from 1990 to 2016, we evaluated the effects of HOPE VI redevelopment on neighborhood composition and resources. After matching HOPE VI and control census tracts, we used a new flexible conditional difference-in-differences technique to estimate average treatment effects on the treated, accounting for varying treatment start dates and durations. Results show that HOPE VI redevelopment decreased tract poverty by 2.9 percentage points, an effect that remained relatively stable through 10 years postredevelopment, and increased median household incomes with no indication of rising affluence. These effects were most pronounced in high-poverty and predominantly Black tracts, and where public housing experienced more costly redevelopment or transitioned to mixed-income. HOPE VI redevelopments did not affect racial composition or the presence of institutional resources, social services, or commercial resources (e.g., grocery stores, restaurants). Results suggest partial success of HOPE VI. Additional policy levers are necessary to increase public housing residents’ access to neighborhood services that promote economic opportunities and well-being.
Top-cited authors
George Galster
  • Wayne State University
Harold Wolman
  • George Washington University
Michael Ratcliffe
  • U.S. Census Bureau
George C. Galster
  • Wayne State University
Ingrid Ellen
  • New York University