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: 06/2020

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.

The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco Rebecca Diamond, Tim McQuade, Franklin Qian

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

Author: Rebecca Diamond, Tim McQuade, Franklin Qian
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 09/2019

Using a 1994 law change, we exploit quasi-experimental variation in the assignment of rent control in San Francisco to study its impacts on tenants and landlords. Leveraging new data tracking individuals' migration, we find rent control limits renters' mobility by 20 percent and lowers displacement from San Francisco. Landlords treated by rent control reduce rental housing supplies by 15 percent by selling to owner-occupants and redeveloping buildings. Thus, while rent control prevents displacement of incumbent renters in the short run, the lost rental housing supply likely drove up market rents in the long run, ultimately undermining the goals of the law.

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.

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
Robert Haveman's picture Robert Haveman Professor Emeritus of Public Affairs and Economics, Faculty Affiliate, Institute for Research on Poverty
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Thomas McDade's picture Thomas McDade Carlos Montezuma Professor of Anthropology; Faculty Fellow, Institute for Policy Research; Director, Laboratory of Human Biology Research
Northwestern University
Heather L. Schwartz's picture Heather L. Schwartz Associate Director, RAND Education, Policy Researcher
RAND Corporation

Pages

Housing - Other Research

Title Author Media
Tapped Out? Racial Disparities in Extrahousehold Kin Resources and the Loss of Homeownership Gregory Sharp, Ellen Whitehead, Matthew Hall

Tapped Out? Racial Disparities in Extrahousehold Kin Resources and the Loss of Homeownership

Author: Gregory Sharp, Ellen Whitehead, Matthew Hall
Publisher: Demography
Date: 09/2020

Research shows that extrahousehold kin economic resources contribute to the racial gap in transitions into homeownership, but the extent to which these resources matter for racial disparities in exits from homeownership is less understood. Using longitudinal data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, 1984–2017, we examine the role of extrahousehold kin wealth and poverty in shaping racial inequalities in the risk of exiting homeownership. Our nonlinear decomposition results indicate that racial differences in family network resources explain a nontrivial portion of the racial gap in homeownership exit, but there is little evidence that the effects of kin resources on exit are moderated by race. Among both Black and White owners, having wealthier noncoresident kin does not lessen the negative impacts of adverse economic or health shocks on the probability of losing homeownership. Our findings have implications for policies and programs designed to buttress the ability of minority households, especially those in financial distress, to sustain the wealth-building state of homeownership.

Metropolitan Reclassification and the Urbanization of Rural America Kenneth M. Johnson , Daniel T. Lichter

Metropolitan Reclassification and the Urbanization of Rural America

Author: Kenneth M. Johnson , Daniel T. Lichter
Publisher: Demography
Date: 08/2020

We highlight the paradoxical implications of decadal reclassification of U.S. counties (and America’s population) from nonmetropolitan to metropolitan status between 1960 and 2017. Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we show that the reclassification of U.S. counties has been a significant engine of metropolitan growth and nonmetropolitan decline. Over the study period, 753—or nearly 25% of all nonmetropolitan counties—were redefined by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as metropolitan, shifting nearly 70 million residents from nonmetropolitan to metropolitan America by 2017. All the growth since 1970 in the metropolitan share of the U.S. population came from reclassification rather than endogenous growth in existing metropolitan areas. Reclassification of nonmetropolitan counties also had implications for drawing appropriate inferences about rural poverty, population aging, education, and economic growth. The paradox is that these many nonmetropolitan “winners”—those experiencing population and economic growth—have, over successive decades, left behind many nonmetropolitan counties with limited prospects for growth. Our study provides cautionary lessons regarding the commonplace narrative of widespread rural decline and economic malaise but also highlights the interdependent demographic fates of metropolitan and nonmetropolitan counties.

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.