Housing

  • Matthew Desmond
  • Rebecca Diamond

Leaders: Matthew Desmond, Rebecca Diamond

The Housing RG is tasked with exploring the the inner workings of disadvantaged neighborhoods and the low-cost housing market, with a focus on (a) the relationship between housing, employment, and poverty, (b) the causes, dynamics, and consequences of eviction, and (c) the effectiveness of housing vouchers and other housing programs. A sampling of our ongoing projects follows.

Evictions and poverty: Are evictions an important cause of deep and extreme poverty? In collaboration with Raj Chetty, Matt Desmond is starting a project on the long-term consequences of eviction that will reveal the extent to which deep and extreme poverty can be reduced with a “housing first” policy that ramps up federal housing programs.

Housing voucher policy: The U.S. currently spends approximately $20 billion per year on subsidized housing vouchers, but 80 percent of these vouchers are used in moderate- or high-poverty neighborhoods, where opportunities for upward mobility are typically limited. Can voucher policies be recast to increase the number of families moving to “high opportunity” neighborhoods?

Housing - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Forever Homes and Temporary Stops: Housing Search Logics and Residential Selection Hope Harvey, Kelley Fong, Kathryn Edin, Stefanie DeLuca

Forever Homes and Temporary Stops: Housing Search Logics and Residential Selection

Author: Hope Harvey, Kelley Fong, Kathryn Edin, Stefanie DeLuca
Publisher: Social Forces
Date: 08/2019

Residential selection is central in determining children’s housing, neighborhood, and school contexts, and an extensive literature considers the social processes that shape residential searches and attainment. While this literature typically frames the residential search as a uniform process oriented around finding residential options with desired characteristics, we examine whether individuals may differentially conceive of these searches in ways that sustain inequality in residential attainment. Drawing on repeated, in-depth interviews with a stratified random sample of 156 households with young children in two metropolitan counties, we find that parents exhibit distinct residential search logics, informed by the constraints they face. Higher-income families usually engage in purposive searches oriented around their residential preferences. They search for “forever homes” that will meet their families’ needs for years to come. In contrast, low-income parents typically draw on a logic of deferral. While they hope to eventually search for a home with the unit, neighborhood, and school characteristics they desire, aspirations for homeownership lead them to conceive of their moves (which are often between rental units) as “temporary stops,” which justifies accepting homes that are inconsistent with their long-term preferences. In addition, because they are often “pushed” to move by negative circumstances, they focus on their immediate housing needs and, in the most extreme cases, adopt an “anywhere but here” approach. These logics constitute an unexamined mechanism through which economic resources shape residential searches and ultimate attainment.

State of the Union 2019: Housing Darrick Hamilton, Christopher Famighetti

State of the Union 2019: Housing

Author: Darrick Hamilton, Christopher Famighetti
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 06/2019
  • Young millennials have lower rates of homeownership than Generation X, baby boomers, and the Silent Generation at comparable ages. We have to reach back to a generation born nearly a century ago—the Greatest Generation—to find homeownership rates lower than those found today among millennials. 
  • The racial gap in young-adult homeownership is larger for millennials than for any generation in the past century. Although the housing reforms after the civil rights era reduced the racial homeownership gap, all those gains have now been lost.
The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco Rebecca Diamond, Timothy McQuade, Franklin Qian

The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco

Author: Rebecca Diamond, Timothy McQuade, Franklin Qian
Publisher: NBER
Date: 01/2018

We exploit quasi-experimental variation in assignment of rent control to study its impacts on tenants, landlords, and the overall rental market. Leveraging new data tracking individuals’ migration, we find rent control increased renters’ probabilities of staying at their addresses by nearly 20%. Landlords treated by rent control reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase. Using a dynamic, neighborhood choice model, we find rent control offered large benefits to covered tenants. Welfare losses from decreased housing supply could be mitigated if insurance against rent increases were provided as government social insurance, instead of a regulated landlord mandate.

State of the Union 2017: Housing Matthew Desmond

State of the Union 2017: Housing

Author: Matthew Desmond
Publisher: Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality
Date: 06/2017
Racial and ethnic gaps in homeownership, housing wealth, and tax expenditures on housing are still very wide. Whereas 71 percent of white families live in owner-occupied housing, only 41 percent of black families and 45 percent of Hispanic families do. Many nonwhite families were excluded from social programs that facilitated dramatic growth in homeownership in the mid-20th century. The ownership gap is related to an affordability gap. Black and Hispanic families are approximately twice as likely as white families to experience “extreme housing costs,” defined as spending at least 50 percent of income on housing. 

 

Home, heart, and being Latina: Housing and intimate relationship power among low-income Mexican mothers Whitney Welsh, Linda Burton

Home, heart, and being Latina: Housing and intimate relationship power among low-income Mexican mothers

Author: Whitney Welsh, Linda Burton
Publisher: Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Date: 07/2016

The authors examine an emergent association between low-income Mexican mothers’ control of housing and power relations in their romantic unions. Guided by valued resource theory, and mothers’ lived racial, ethnic, and gender experiences of navigating access to housing and sustaining intimate unions, the authors used secondary longitudinal ethnographic data on 29 low-income mothers of Mexican descent as exemplar cases to explore (1) mothers’ housing dependencies as they transitioned from their natal homes to coresidential housing with romantic partners, (2) the factors that differentially shaped mothers’ housing options, and (3) how mothers’ control of housing procurement influenced their intimate relationship power. The findings suggest that mothers followed one of five housing dependency pathways, with 25 percent securing housing independently. Most traversed complex and transient levels of dependence on their partners for housing with immigrants and native-born Mexican Americans evincing nuanced differences in their relationship power depending on their housing situations. In most cases, regardless of their national origin (Mexico or the U.S.), mothers’ control of housing procurement directly corresponded to increased relationship power. The importance of considering the impact of race/ethnicity on housing and women’s power in Latino families in future research is also discussed.

housing - CPI Affiliates

Matt Desmond's picture Matt Desmond Housing Research Group Leader; Professor of Sociology
Princeton University
Rebecca Diamond's picture Rebecca Diamond Associate Professor of Economics; Housing Research Group Leader, Assistant Professor of Economics
Stanford University
Heather L. Schwartz's picture Heather L. Schwartz Associate Director, RAND Education, Policy Researcher
RAND Corporation
Jens Ludwig's picture Jens Ludwig McCormick Foundation Professor of Social Service Administration, Law, and Public Policy, Director, University of Chicago Crime Lab, Co-Director, University of Chicago Urban Education Lab
University of Chicago
Lisa Gennetian's picture Lisa Gennetian Research Professor, Institute for Human Development and Social Change; Director, the beELL initiative
, Director, Poverty and Economic Self-Sufficiency, National Center for Research on Hispanic Families and Children; Senior Researcher, National Bureau of Economic Research
New York University

Pages

Housing - Other Research

Title Author Media
Does Condominium Development Lead to Gentrification? Leah Platt Boustan, Robert A. Margo, Matthew M. Miller, James M. Reeves, Justin P. Steil

Does Condominium Development Lead to Gentrification?

Author: Leah Platt Boustan, Robert A. Margo, Matthew M. Miller, James M. Reeves, Justin P. Steil
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research
Date: 08/2019

The condominium structure, which facilitates ownership of units in multi-family buildings, was only introduced to the US during the 1960s. We ask whether the subsequent development of condominiums encouraged high-income households to move to central cities. Although we document a strong positive correlation between condominium density and resident income, this association is entirely driven by endogenous development of condos in areas otherwise attractive to high-income households. When we instrument for condo density using the passage of municipal regulations limiting condo conversions, we find little association between condo development and resident income, education or race.

Building Inequality: Housing Segregation and Income Segregation Ann Owens

Building Inequality: Housing Segregation and Income Segregation

Author: Ann Owens
Publisher: Sociological Science
Date: 08/2019

This article foregrounds housing in the study of residential segregation. The spatial configuration of housing determines the housing opportunities in each neighborhood, the backdrop against which households’ resources, preferences, and constraints play out. I use census and American Community Survey data to provide the first evidence of the extent of housing segregation by type and by cost at multiple geographic scales in large metropolitan areas in the United States from 1990 to 2014. Segregation between single- and multifamily homes and renter- and owner-occupied homes increased in most metropolitan areas, whereas segregation by cost declined. Housing segregation varies among metropolitan areas, across geographic scales, and over time, with consequences for income segregation. Income segregation is markedly higher when and where housing segregation is greater. As long as housing opportunities remain segregated, residential segregation will change little, with urgent implications for urban and housing policy makers.

Subsidized Housing and the Transition to Adulthood Yana Kucheva

Subsidized Housing and the Transition to Adulthood

Author: Yana Kucheva
Publisher: Demography
Date: 04/2018

Despite abundant evidence about the effect of children’s socioeconomic circumstances on their transition to adulthood, we know much less about the effect of social policy programs aimed at poor families with children in facilitating how and when children become adults. This issue is particularly important for the U.S. federal subsidized housing program given its long history of placing subsidized units in some of the poorest and most racially segregated neighborhoods. Using counterfactual causal methods that adjust for the length of receipt of subsidized housing, I estimate the effect of subsidized housing on teenage parenthood, household formation, and educational attainment. I find that the subsidized housing program has either null or positive effects on the transition to adulthood and that these effects vary by both race and gender. These results underscore the importance of considering whether social programs have differential effects on the life chances of individuals based on both race and gender.

Gentrification and the Amenity Value of Crime Reductions: Evidence from Rent Deregulation David H. Autor, Christopher J. Palmer, Parag A. Pathak

Gentrification and the Amenity Value of Crime Reductions: Evidence from Rent Deregulation

Author: David H. Autor, Christopher J. Palmer, Parag A. Pathak
Publisher: NBER
Date: 10/2017

Gentrification involves large-scale neighborhood change whereby new residents and improved amenities increase property values. In this paper, we study whether and how much public safety improvements are capitalized by the housing market after an exogenous shock to the gentrification process. We use variation induced by the sudden end of rent control in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1995 to examine within-Cambridge variation in reported crime across neighborhoods with different rent-control levels, abstracting from the prevailing city-wide decline in criminal activity. Using detailed location-specific incident-level criminal activity data assembled from Cambridge Police Department archives for the years 1992 through 2005, we find robust evidence that rent decontrol caused overall crime to fall by 16 percent—approximately 1,200 reported crimes annually—with the majority of the effect accruing through reduced property crime. By applying external estimates of criminal victimization’s economic costs, we calculate that the crime reduction due to rent deregulation generated approximately $10 million (in 2008 dollars) of annual direct benefit to potential victims. Capitalizing this benefit into property values, this crime reduction accounts for 15 percent of the contemporaneous growth in the Cambridge residential property values that is attributable to rent decontrol. Our findings establish that reductions in crime are an important part of gentrification and generate substantial economic value. They also show that standard cost-of-crime estimates are within the bounds imposed by the aggregate price appreciation due to rent decontrol.

Preservation of Affordable Rental Housing: Evaluation of the MacArthur Foundation's Window of Opportunity Initiative Heather L. Schwartz, Raphael W. Bostic, Richard K. Green, Vincent J. Reina, Lois M. Davis, Catherine H. Augustine

Preservation of Affordable Rental Housing: Evaluation of the MacArthur Foundation's Window of Opportunity Initiative

Author: Heather L. Schwartz, Raphael W. Bostic, Richard K. Green, Vincent J. Reina, Lois M. Davis, Catherine H. Augustine
Publisher: RAND Corporation
Date: 06/2016

In 2000, the MacArthur Foundation began the Window of Opportunity initiative, a 20-year, $187 million project intended to help preserve privately owned affordable rental housing. The authors of this report assess whether the initiative achieved its goals and identify lessons learned about effective preservation practices. In doing so, they also provide a summary of the evolution of practices in preserving affordable rental housing, discuss challenges and opportunities for preservation going forward, and identify lessons learned that may help other philanthropies in their own philanthropic initiatives, even if they do not pertain to housing.

The authors find that the MacArthur Foundation met most of its goals for Window of Opportunity. As the initiative nears its end, large nonprofit preservation developers/owners have greater financial capacity and reputation, there are more resources and vehicles for preservation, and, to a lesser degree, the policy environment has changed to the benefit of preservation. However, Window of Opportunity has not achieved its most ambitious federal policy goals and is likely to fall short of its target for the number of privately owned affordable rental housing that will be preserved.