Roundtable: Can Distressed Neighborhoods be Saved? Evidence from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program
(Housing and Community Development)

Thursday, November 6, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Tesuque (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Roundtable Organizers:  Jenny Schuetz, University of Southern California
Moderators:  Raphael Bostic, University of Southern California
Speakers:  Frank Ford, Thriving Communities Institute, Kevin Park, University of North Carolina, Jenny Schuetz, University of Southern California and Jonathan Spader, Abt Associates, Inc.

The 2007-2009 foreclosure crisis affected virtually every community across the United States. But distressed houses were particularly prevalent in some cities and neighborhoods, including central-city neighborhoods in Rust Belt states like Ohio and Michigan, and rapidly growing exurbs in the “Sand States” (Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona). To assist the hardest hit communities, Congress adopted a series of policies known as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). HUD awarded grants to state and local governments and qualified non-profits to support activities such as rehabilitation of foreclosed properties, redevelopment, demolition of blighted structures, land banking and homebuyer assistance. Whereas other programs sought to prevent foreclosures, NSP’s objective was to mitigate the impact of foreclosures on neighboring properties, through reducing the stock of distressed properties, removing visual blight and sites of crime, and signaling to residents that the neighborhood was capable of improvement. Totaling $6.9 billion across three rounds of funding, NSP was the largest effort to address the impact of foreclosures on neighborhoods, and was a substantial influx of resources for many local communities. The panel will explore topics related to the NSP2 program’s intervention strategies, implementation experience, and challenges for evaluation. NSP2 was awarded to 56 grantees via competitive applications, and had two unusual features. First, grantees were encouraged to concentrate their investments in a few targeted neighborhoods, at sufficient scale to improve housing market outcomes. Second, the range of allowed activities gave grantees flexibility to tailor their strategies to local housing market conditions. The program’s relatively decentralized nature allowed grantees to pursue fundamentally different strategies in different cities—an approach that has pros and cons for both program effectiveness and evaluation. This panel will include researchers and practitioners with expertise in NSP2 and other housing policies. Questions to be discussed include: how and why did approaches to implementing NSP2, and resulting outcomes, vary across cities and grantees? What were the main outcomes of NSP2? Did it alter housing markets in the targeted neighborhoods? What challenges did grantees face in implementing NSP2? To what extent were these challenges a function of local or regional economic factors, program design, or grantee experience/capacity? What lessons can be drawn from NSP2 for the design and implementation of future housing and community development programs?
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