A study published in Housing Policy Debate by Michael Lens and Vincent Reina titled “Preserving Neighborhood Opportunity: Where Federal Housing Subsidies Expire” found that project-based Section 8 properties with rent restrictions expiring between 2011 and 2020 are on average in higher opportunity neighborhoods than properties supported by the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), vouchers, and public housing. Project-based Section 8 properties whose subsidies expired between 2000 and 2010 were on average located in lower opportunity, but improving, neighborhoods.
The authors compared neighborhood opportunity for distinct groups of rental housing: project-based Section 8 properties expiring between 2000 and 2010; project-based Section 8 properties expiring between 2011 and 2020; all active project-based Section 8 properties; LIHTC properties reaching the end of their 15-year compliance period between 2011 and 2020; all active LIHTC properties; new LIHTC properties that became active between 2000 and 2010; vouchers; and public housing. The authors measured neighborhood opportunity by spatial job accessibility, location affordability, school affordability, crime, poverty, racial composition, unemployment, household composition, and educational attainment (high school) among adults. The authors then created an overall score to compare neighborhood opportunity across the different property groups.
The authors found that project-based Section 8 properties whose rent restrictions expired between 2000 and 2010 were located on average in lower opportunity neighborhoods than LIHTC properties and voucher holders, but that these neighborhoods were improving. In contrast, project-based Section 8 properties expiring between 2011 and 2020 are on average in neighborhoods of higher opportunity than any other subsidy program. These findings suggest a significant risk of losing project-based Section 8 properties from the affordable housing stock in higher opportunity neighborhoods during this decade. They also suggest that tenant protection vouchers may provide limited options for project-based Section 8 tenants to move to a neighborhood of equal or higher opportunity should their building’s rent restriction expire.
The findings for LIHTC properties were less clear. Between 2000 and 2010, new LIHTC properties were on average in neighborhoods similar to expired project-based Section 8 properties, but LIHTC neighborhoods were not improving. LIHTC properties whose 15-year compliance period ends between 2011 and 2020 are on average located in neighborhoods with opportunity similar to that of voucher holders. The LIHTC properties, however, are on average in neighborhoods that have shown the greatest decline in opportunity relative to the other subsidy programs.
The authors suggest that limited housing resources at all levels of government require difficult decisions regarding new development and preservation. Neighborhood opportunity may be an important factor in determining where to target resources for preservation.
Preserving Neighborhood Opportunity: Where Federal Housing Subsidies Expire is available at: http://bit.ly/2cLkegH