Panel: Improving Understanding of Evictions and Gentrification with Better Data
(Housing and Community Development)

Thursday, November 2, 2017: 1:45 PM-3:15 PM
Wright (Hyatt Regency Chicago)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Panel Organizers:  Davin Reed, New York University
Panel Chairs:  Katherine O'Regan, New York University
Discussants:  Vincent Reina, University of Pennsylvania and Daniel A. Hartley, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

City and Neighborhood Determinants of Eviction in California
Michael Lens, Kyle Nelson and Ashley Gromis, University of California, Los Angeles

Causes and Consequences of Residential Evictions
Robert Collinson and Davin Reed, New York University

Gentrification and Homeowners’ Property Tax Payment Behavior
Lei Ding, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and Jackelyn Hwang, Princeton University

Effects of Gentrification on the Location and Well-Being of Original Residents
Quentin Brummet, U.S. Census Bureau and Davin Reed, New York University

Recent research by Raj Chetty and colleagues suggests that neighborhoods can have strong effects on earnings and mobility. Work by Matt Desmond has highlighted the importance of housing instability in dynamics of poverty and disadvantage. This panel explores how evictions and gentrification shape the neighborhood location, housing stability, and overall well-being of disadvantaged families.

Evictions and gentrification are both closely connected to the neighborhoods individuals live in; are potentially shaped by many of the same trends in neighborhood change; and potentially have many similar effects on individual location and well-being. Both have received increasing attention from researchers and policymakers, but data limitations have left many questions unanswered.

This panel consists of four papers from public policy, planning, and economics. Each assembles novel data sets to overcome previous limitations and provide new insights into evictions and gentrification.

The first paper, by Gromis, Lens, and Nelson, combines evictions data from two unique sources: a tenant-screening and public records data warehousing company and unsealed eviction court records from the Los Angeles Superior Court website obtained using web scraping and manual data collection. The authors use these detailed, case-level data to describe the spatial concentration of evictions; the characteristics of tenants facing eviction; and how neighborhood change is connected to eviction.

The second paper, by Collinson and Reed, focuses on the effects of eviction on low-income households. They construct a novel administrative data set by linking the universe of housing court cases in New York City from 2006 to 2016 to outcomes from city and state agencies, including neighborhood location, public benefits receipt, homelessness, employment and earnings, hospitalizations, and credit access and spending. They estimate causal effects of eviction on these outcomes by leveraging the random assignment of housing court cases to courtrooms.

The third paper, by Lei Ding, examines the effects of gentrification on lower income homeowners, in contrast to the usual focus on renters. He does this using property-level data on tax assessments and tax payments from the City of Philadelphia and an exogenous policy change that substantially increased the degree to which gentrification could increase the assessed values of homes. He tests whether this shock to affordability increased the displacement of lower income homeowners, further accelerating the pace of gentrification.

Finally, Brummet and Reed use pilot Census Bureau data to match individuals responding to the Decennial 2000 and any year of the American Community Survey 2005-2014. The result is a national panel data set of millions of individuals and their locations, characteristics, and outcomes at two points in time. They use these data to provide new insight into the gentrification process and to estimate causal effects of gentrification on the location and well-being of original residents using plausibly exogenous variation in neighborhood housing demand.

Together, these four papers provide answers to important questions surrounding evictions and gentrification. They do so by leveraging new administrative data and new data partnerships at the city, state, and national level. These better data allow for better research and, hopefully, will contribute to better policy.

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