Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: The What, Where, and When of Place-Based Housing Policy's Neighborhood Effects

Friday, November 13, 2015 : 8:30 AM
Foster I (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Keri-Nicole Dillman1, Keren Horn2, Ann Verrilli3 and Carlota Melo2, (1)Independent, (2)University of Massachusetts, Boston, (3)Citizens' Housing and Planning Association
A growing body of evidence demonstrates the costs of living in distressed communities, for both children and adults.  In response, housing policy is increasingly focusing on strategies to expand opportunities in lower poverty communities often richer in the resources for individual and family well-being and strategies to revitalize high poverty communities.  At the state level, tools for targeting and integrating housing investments with concerted neighborhood revitalization efforts are growing, but are largely seen as weak, in part due to a lack of concrete guidance. 

 Evidence on the neighborhood effects of publicly subsidized housing can support both of those goals.  First, concrete evidence of neighborhood effects (both costs and benefits) can be used to counter opposition to the production of affordable housing in resource-rich communities – increasing the pace and volume of housing produced.  Second, evidence on neighborhood effects (across the breadth of project- and context-dimensions) can be used to inform policymaker decisions on the type of projects, in terms of both siting and timing, most likely to yield hoped for community benefits while minimizing negative consequences (perhaps through parallel and complementary investments of financial, political, and technical capacity).

This paper synthesizes evidence on neighborhood effects of publicly subsidized affordable housing production.  We focus on research enlisting quantitative methods best able to isolate the effect of the housing intervention amidst a sea of other contributing demographic and neighborhood characteristics.  This body of work has grown considerably over time and particularly in the past fifteen years.  Given growing interest in the multiplicity of neighborhood dimensions affecting residents, we also focus on research examining a host of community conditions from property values to racial and income integration, and – most recently - crime, education, and health. 

While the body of high quality research is considerable, our understanding about ‘what works,’ ‘where’ and ‘when’ is still growing and gaps remain.  Our syntheses will first summarize evidence according to project- and context-dimensions (e.g. by various regions and housing markets).  In turn, we will summarize knowledge according to the type of neighborhood effect (positive vs. negative) and community condition (e.g. housing market conditions, social and economic conditions, etc.).  Based on this accounting, we will offer concrete guidance to federal and local policymakers on where and when to invest to achieve hoped for community gains and stem negative consequences for the neighborhood. 

Finally, we will highlight gaps in our knowledge.  Certainly, these are prime opportunities for future research.   They also represent areas for strategic innovation and real-time learning by policymakers, themselves.  For example, local efforts to integrate school- with housing-based community revitalization efforts are growing and are ripe learning opportunities.  At the same time, the increasing integration of health promoting priorities within affordable housing development should be examined to add to our understanding of how limited affordable housing resources can be enlisted to maximize community well-being.   Succinctly summarizing existing knowledge can support a sophisticated policy approach for setting housing priorities, coordinating programming, and carefully evaluating investment opportunities to enhance the success of publicly funded affordable housing production.