The Changing Geography of Subsidized Housing: Implications for Urban Poverty

Ann Owens, Harvard University

Since the 1970s, subsidized housing policy has geographically deconcentrated residents to achieve a greater income mix both in housing developments and in the communities where subsidized housing is located. I examine the implications of the changing geography of subsidized renters for neighborhoods and MSAs from 1980 to 2009. Among 11 diverse MSAs, I find that neighborhoods that gain project-based subsidized units gain fewer poor households than neighborhoods that gain voucher units, suggesting that the planned aspect of siting projects may protect against SES decline. I also find that changes in the geographic distribution of subsidized housing account for about 3% of the decline in MSA-level concentrated poverty from 1980 to 2000 but also account for some of the rise of moderately poor neighborhoods. My results suggest that policymakers should take the SES trajectory of neighborhoods and MSAs into account when siting projects and providing mobility counseling for voucher users.

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Presented in Poster Session 7