Panel: The Effects of Policy Design and Implementation Decisions: Understanding Affordable Housing Policy Outcomes
(Housing and Community Development)

Saturday, November 8, 2014: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Sandia (Convention Center)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Rachel Krefetz Fyall, University of Washington
Panel Chairs:  Tatyana Guzman, Cleveland State University
Discussants:  Lindsey Rose Bullinger, Indiana University and Maithreyi Gopalan, Indiana University

The proposed panel examines how affordable housing policy outcomes are influenced by policy design and implementation decisions. The panel fits in the policy area “Housing and Community Development,” while also addressing the conference theme of “Global Challenges, New Perspectives.” Aggravated by continued urbanization and large income gaps between rich and poor, housing affordability is a worldwide challenge. Governments struggle with the best way to improve housing affordability without compromising other social and economic goals. Research often focuses on the choice between different policy tools, yet policy design and implementation decisions can be just as influential to policy outcomes. Although changes related to a policy’s design or administration rarely alter the primary policy goal, they can have a profound impact on the success or failure of the policy as well as its unintended consequences. This phenomenon deserves special attention because design and implementation decisions tend to occur outside of more formal policy processes observed by the public. This panel evaluates the effects of four different policy design and implementation decisions in the area of affordable housing. Two studies focus on the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which is currently the largest subsidized housing creation program in the United States. The first uses content analysis to examine Qualified Action Plans, the policy documents that guide the allocation of affordable housing tax credits. The author finds substantial variation in the priorities within these policy documents, and the stated goal of poverty deconcentration tends to correlate with actual changes in poverty concentration within metropolitan areas. Because this program facilitates publicly-subsidized housing creation by private parties, the second LIHTC study investigates how the participation of certain types of housing developers influences housing outcomes. Using an enhanced version of the national LIHTC database assembled by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the author finds that certain developer characteristics predict housing project features such as project size, populations targeted, and income restrictions for residents. The third paper researches the effects of affordable housing mandates in London, where developers with certain sized projects are required to include affordable units in their developments. Taking advantage of recent policy design changes, this study uses data from the London Development Database to evaluate the direct and indirect effects of these mandates using a regression discontinuity design. The final paper synthesizes the research on housing choice vouchers in the U.S., with a special focus on qualitative data. Using a meta-analysis approach, findings indicate that location outcomes are largely dependent on policy design and structural forces. The author thus argues that location outcomes for voucher holders are predictable based on established economic and social theory, and these should guide the design and implementation of voucher programs that aim to improve locational outcomes. This panel consists of four presenters—one practitioner, one policy analyst and two scholars from different universities—who came together using the Single Paper Listing on the APPAM website. The chair and discussant are also from unique universities, resulting in a panel that represents six different institutions.
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