Category Archives: Housing

Who Benefits from Targeted Property Tax Relief? Evidence from Virginia Elections

Source: Jeremy G. Moulton, Bennie D. Waller, Scott A. Wentland, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Early View, First published: February 21, 2018
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study examines the market impact of targeted property tax relief, which is critical for understanding who exactly benefits from a widely used local policy. Specifically, we investigate this in the context of two statewide ballot measures in Virginia that provided property tax relief or heightened expectations for future relief intended to aid disabled veterans and seniors, respectively. Using residential multiple listing service microdata from Virginia, results from a regression discontinuity analysis show that once the 2010 tax relief measures passed on Election Day, property values rose sharply in response to the sudden increase in demand for homeownership among the targeted groups. We find that senior preferred housing and properties within areas with higher proportions of seniors and veterans experienced the highest price appreciation, while areas with fewer veterans or seniors saw little impact. The findings suggest that this type of policy provides an immediate benefit to current homeowners, thereby offsetting benefits for subsequent homeowners within the targeted groups. This effect represents an unintended consequence of targeted property tax relief as a policy tool more generally, as immediate capitalization into home prices subsequently increases the cost of housing for many individuals the relief was intended to help.

The Bureaucratic Nightmare of Incrementalism

Source: Meagan Day, Jacobin, January 17, 2018

America’s patchwork system of social services makes it hard to care for ourselves. ….

….It’s actually less expensive to spend public money on shelter instead — and meanwhile, people who receive shelter see significantly better health outcomes, which can help them attain overall stability.

Some cities and states have recently acknowledged this calculus. Salt Lake City’s enormously successful Housing First initiative has reduced chronic homelessness in the city by 91 percent by providing housing to homeless people without requiring proof of employment, treatment, or counseling — the principle being that housing comes first, making other services easier to administer. Houston, too, has seen major improvement in both homeless people’s health outcomes and the city’s budget with its Integrated Care for the Chronically Homeless program, which uses Medicaid funding to provide permanent supportive housing units to homeless people who make at least three emergency room visits over two years.

These initiatives are a big step in the right direction, since they take into account the close relationship between health care and housing security — issues that are usually siloed to detrimental effect. But programs like these face serious obstacles. In particular, it’s extremely hard to coordinate among a kaleidoscope of separate federal, state, and local agencies, social program stipulations, and funding streams..;…

State Economic Monitor

Source: Urban Institute, Updated November 2017

The State and Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monitor tracks and analyzes economic and fiscal trends at the state level. Its interactive graphics highlight particular differences across all 50 states and the District of Columbia in employment, earnings, housing, and taxes.

Each section is updated when new data are released. Updated November 2017

Is Anybody Home at HUD?

Source: Alec MacGillis, New York Magazine and ProPublica, August 22, 2017

A long-harbored conservative dream — the “dismantling of the administrative state” — is taking place under Secretary Ben Carson.

…. The administration’s preliminary budget outline had already signaled deep cuts for HUD. And Donald Trump had chosen to lead the department someone with zero experience in government or social policy — the nominee whose unsuitability most mirrored Trump’s lack of preparation to run the country…..

Early Childhood Homelessness in the United States: 50-State Profile

Source: Department of Health & Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), June 2017

….This 2017 release of the 50-state profile project provides a snapshot of early childhood data available for children who are experiencing homelessness in each state, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. It includes publicly available data for the year 2014-2015 from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation and reports the following by state:
● Total population under age 6 in 2015
● Estimated number of children under age 6 experiencing homelessness in 2014-15
● Estimated percent of children under age 6 experiencing homelessness in 2014-15
● Estimated extent of homelessness (e.g. one in [X] children under age 6 experienced homelessness in 2014
● Estimated enrollment of children under age 6 in federally-funded early childhood programs for which data were available in 2014-2015 including Head Start and Local Education Agencies receiving McKinney-Vento subgrants in 2014-2015. Data were not available in 2014-2015 for the Child Care and Development Fund (subsidized child care) and the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (evidence-based home visiting).

The 2017 release also includes two new related factors indicators; the percentage of families experiencing a high housing cost burden and the percentage of low-income working families with young children under age 6. These factors we included because of their relationship to homelessness and to spark dialogue about addressing homelessness for children under age 6. This data will also be available in future years…..

CDBG Works

Source: David W. Burns, Report on City Projects, June 2017

From the summary:
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program is the key tool cities use to revitalize low and moderate-income neighborhoods and serve the people who live in them. Administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, CDBG was launched in 1974 and has served thousands of communities across the nation. “Entitlement” communities receive funds directly from the federal government based on a highly targeted formula. The balance of funds go to States which administer CDBG resources to smaller towns and communities on a competitive basis. CDBG allows local governments the flexibility to design their own comprehensive revitalization plans in the context of targeted objectives to serve low and moderate income people. ….

…. CDGB is not just another federal program. It is a lifeline to poor neighborhoods that for too long have suffered disinvestment in both their physical infrastructure and their people. This publication, CDBG WORKS, is designed to illustrate the types of projects CDBG makes possible. CDBG funds housing rehab programs for in-home seniors and those with disabilities, making it possible for them to gain access and stay in their homes. It funds Boys and Girls Clubs to provide youth productive activities as an alternative to the streets. It supports community and social service organizations that provide counseling to victims of domestic violence and those who suffer from homelessness and mental health problems. The list goes on and on. ….

Unlocking the Housing-Related Benefits of Telework: A Case for Government Intervention

Source: W.C. Bunting – research economist in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, Date Written: June 29, 2017

From the abstract:
The central claim of the present article is that some form of government intervention is necessary to make telework arrangements sufficiently binding in the long-run for employees living in, or near, city centers to feel comfortable incurring the costs of relocating to more remote, lower-priced areas, and to ensure the long-run financial self-sufficiency of private telework centers, which provide important benefits, not just to employers and employees, but to society generally. The public benefit considered here is the capacity for telework, and telework centers specifically, to provide lower-priced housing alternatives for middle- and high-income earners who choose to live in, or near, the city center to reduce the time spent commuting, but who would otherwise choose to live in more remote, lower-priced areas if commuting costs were lower. As explained, a minimal amount of government intervention is necessary, however, to overcome several key economic challenges that preclude employees from relocating to remote, lower-priced exurban or rural communities, as well as the formation of a new and exciting private-sector enterprise—the privately-operated telework center.

Policymakers Cut Housing Vouchers in 2017

Source: Douglas Rice, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Off the Charts blog, May 18, 2017

The bill that President Trump signed into law to fund the government for the rest of fiscal year 2017 has insufficient funding to renew all of the Housing Choice Vouchers in use last year, leaving a gap of roughly 60,000 vouchers. While some state and local housing agencies can use emergency reserves to close part of the gap, tens of thousands fewer low-income families will likely receive help this year, worsening the shortage of affordable housing. Already, 3 in 4 low-income families that struggle to pay rent receive no federal rental aid….

Poverty, Politics and Profit

Source: Frontline and NPR, 2017

An investigation into the billions spent on housing low-income people, and why so few get the help they need. The film examines the politics, profits and problems of an affordable housing system in crisis.

Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Shelters Fewer
Source: Laura Sullivan, Meg Anderson, NPR, May 9, 2017

…..Thirty years ago, Eldridge was the type of person Congress sought to help when it created the low-income housing tax credit program, which is now the government’s primary program to build housing for the poor. But the tax-credit building that’s only a little more than 2 miles from Eldridge’s house, where she might pay as little as $200 or $300 in rent based on her income, has a waiting list up to four years long. In Dallas and nationwide, many of these buildings don’t have any vacancies. In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it’s costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits. In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies…..

In America’s Affordable Housing Crisis, More Demand but Less Supply
Source: Patrice Taddonio, Frontline, May 9, 2017

More and more Americans are struggling to make rent. Each year, an estimated 2.5 million people across the country are evicted. Today, in a joint investigation called Poverty, Politics and Profit, FRONTLINE and NPR join forces to examine the crisis in affordable housing, exploring why so few people are getting the help they need, and whether government programs designed to aid low-income Americans with rent are working as they should. One of those programs, called the low-income housing tax credit, relies on partnerships between the federal government and the private sector. The IRS gives billions in tax credits to the states, who then award the credits to developers. The developers sell them for cash to investors, mostly banks, and then use that money to help build apartment buildings. And because taxpayer money pays for most of it, they can charge the lower rents required…..