Affordable Housing Finance

The What, Where, and When of Place-Based Housing Policy’s Neighborhood Effects

Published: 2017 | Keri-Nicole Dillman, Ann Verrilli, Keren Horn


Ever-scarce affordable housing production resources, in addition to their primary function of providing housing for those in need, are increasingly enlisted for the dual goals of strengthening distressed communities and increasing access to higher opportunity neighborhoods. Information on spillovers can inform investment decisions over time and across communities. We leverage recent, high-quality research on neighborhood effects of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) production, synthesizing evidence according to neighborhood context. We also summarize the evidence on project features moderating impacts of publicly subsidized, place-based rental housing, in general. We conclude that context matters. Producing LIHTC housing in distressed neighborhoods positively impacts the surrounding neighborhood—in terms of modest property value gains and increased safety. By contrast, higher opportunity neighborhoods experience small property value reductions, and no impacts on crime. Big questions remain, however, about impact heterogeneity—via tenant mix, property design, and ongoing property management, as examples—with the scarcity of systematic data representing one of the field’s largest constraints.