A study published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research, “Comparing Opportunity Metrics and Locational Outcomes in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) Program,” finds that an opportunity provision added to Texas’s Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) in 2009 resulted in an increase in Housing Credit projects developed in lower poverty, higher diversity neighborhoods in San Antonio.
The state QAP provides the rules and criteria by which tax credits are awarded to development proposals. Early in the Housing Credit program, during the late 1980s and 1990s, preference was typically given to developments located in distressed areas as a means of revitalizing those areas. During the 2000s, policy-makers began giving more attention to deconcentrating poverty and placing more affordable housing in higher-opportunity neighborhoods. In 2009, Texas included a provision in its QAP to award points to development proposals located in high-opportunity areas. These areas have historically been measured by poverty rates and now by school quality.
From 1991 to 2008, 71% of Housing Credit properties developed in San Antonio were in neighborhoods with a poverty rate of 30% or more and only 4% were in neighborhoods with the poverty rate below 15%. Seventy-one percent of properties were developed in neighborhoods with low racial diversity. Following implementation of the opportunity provision in 2009, only 33% of properties were developed in neighborhoods with a poverty rate of 30% or more, and 27% were located in neighborhoods with a poverty rate below 15%. Only 33% of properties were developed in neighborhoods with low racial diversity.
Some measures of opportunity like a neighborhood’s poverty rate, however, fail to account for other dimensions of neighborhood opportunity, such as access to amenities, transportation, and environmental and public health. The authors suggest the opportunity metrics in the current QAP might not capture the full range of neighborhoods offering greater access to opportunity. The study concludes that the opportunity provision in Texas’ Housing Credit QAP should be refined to include more robust opportunity indicators.
“Comparing Opportunity Metrics and Locational Outcomes in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program” is available at: http://bit.ly/2mtxg7u