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Built Environment Archive
| Posted: October 1st, 2013
Autumn brings crisper nights, apple cider, and the annual release of the prior year’s Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data.
HMDA requires the vast majority of home mortgage lenders to disclose critical information about each loan application, such as whether the loan was approved or denied, and information about the loans and applicants—including the race, gender, and income of the borrower and the mortgage’s location.
While regulatory use of HMDA focuses heavily on each lender’s service to its community (for banks, performance under the Community Reinvestment Act or CRA; for all lenders, concerns about discrimination), HMDA’s vast dataset—2012’s included 9.8 million loans reported by 7,400 lenders— provides important insight into the state of the mortgage market.
The Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ annual HMDA analysis, authored by Neil Bhutta and Glenn Canner. “Mortgage Market Conditions and Borrower Outcomes: Evidence from the 2012 HMDA Data and Matched HMDA-Credit Record Data” is especially notable this year because it includes analysis of the performance through 2012 of 300,000 loans made in 2006 (at the height of the bubble and of sloppy underwriting) and in 2010 (when mortgage credit was extremely tight).
This ability to follow a mortgage is an important innovation, attributable to an ongoing project called the National Mortgage Database (NMDB), a joint effort of the Federal Housing Finance Administration and Freddie Mac. (The NMDB was featured at the June data lunch sponsored by the Urban Institute’s new Housing Finance Policy Center.)
Here’s what we learn from the basic 2012 HMDA analysis:
- New mortgage loans increased 38 percent from 2011 to 2012, but that was largely driven by a 54 percent increase in refinancing loans, compared to only a 13 percent increase in home purchase loans.
- Government financing—Federal Housing Agency (FHA), Veterans Administration (VA), and Rural Housing Service (RHS)—accounted for 45 percent of the home purchase loans for owner-occupants, with VA and RHS lending particularly strong. The median income of borrowers who got home purchase loans from the FHA was about 40 percent lower than the median for conventional (non-government) home purchase loans, suggesting a bifurcated market.
- While loans to all groups of borrowers increased, high-income borrowers, non-Hispanic whites, and Asians showed significantly larger increases than other groups. Denial rates for black and white-Hispanic applicants continued at rates significantly higher than denials for other groups. The big reasons for denial related to too high loan-to-value or debt-to-income ratios.
- Looking at census tracts rather than individual borrowers, lending was weakest in low-income and minority census tracts.
- High-cost lending (a proxy for subprime lending) remained low, at 3 percent (compared to 28 percent in 2006), but black and white-Hispanic borrowers were more likely to have higher-priced loans.
The matched data enabled Bhutta and Canner to add credit scores—missing from HMDA but scheduled to be included under the Dodd-Frank Act—to their analysis, as well as performance. Some important findings:
- Confirming the existence of a tight “credit box,” average credit scores rose significantly from 2006 to 2010, from 701 to 728 for home-purchase loans and 682 to 772 for refinances (or “refi”). The inversion of the comparative credit scores for purchase and refi likely reflects the changing shares in origination channels, with FHA, VA, and RHS having a vastly increased portion of the home purchase market, whereas loans banks held in portfolio or sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were largely refis.
- In 2010, 22 percent of home purchase borrowers had back-end (i.e., both housing and non-housing) debt payment to income ratios above 43 percent, the bright-line standard for a “Qualified Mortgage” (QM) under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) new rules. However, 70 percent of that 22 percent were FHA, VA, or RHS. On September 30, the FHA released its version of the QM rule; it does not have a 43 percent debt-to-income cutoff.
- In both 2006 and 2010, loans made by institutions subject to the CRA in their CRA assessment areas had higher credit scores and lower debt–to-income ratios than loans originated outside assessment areas. CRA assessment area loans made in 2006 to low- or moderate-income borrowers had significantly lower delinquency rates than the universe as a whole, and one-fourth the delinquency rate of higher-priced loans. Bhutta and Canner conclude that “the relatively low delinquency rate of loans encouraged by the CRA is inconsistent with the notion that the CRA was a principal driver of the mortgage and financial crisis."
Starting this year, important improvements spurred by work at the CFPB will make the data more accessible. The data on the website of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council are easier for researchers to retrieve and use. In addition, the CFPB’s own website now has graphs of loan originations by loan use (purchase, refinance, home improvement) and loan type (conventional, FHA, VA, RHS) for 2010, 2011, and 2012, as well as information about changes in mortgage applications and originations.
CFPB will shortly release a far more robust query tool as well as an API to help developers access HMDA data and design their own applications and visualizations. The Urban Institute’s own Data Dashboard and National Data Repository will also be updated shortly with 2012 HMDA data.
Image from Shutterstock
Filed under: Built Environment |Tags: finance, HMDA, housing, Urban Institute Add a Comment »
| Posted: September 30th, 2013
Imagine Marie, a low-income mom with two kids, who’s paying more than half her monthly income for an apartment in a dangerous neighborhood. She finds out that she’s eligible for a housing voucher and decides to apply. She’d like to move to a safer neighborhood in a nearby suburb, where the schools are better. So she submits an application to three different Public Housing Agencies (PHAs)—the one in the city where she lives now and the two serving neighboring suburbs. Each has a different application form and each requires her to apply in person.
After a long time on the waiting list, Marie finally hears from the city PHA. She attends an orientation briefing and heads out apartment hunting with her voucher. Marie finds an apartment in a neighborhood she really likes, right across the boundary line between city and suburb. The landlord tells her he’s willing to accept her voucher but doesn’t really know anything about the city PHA that issued it. And a staffer at the city PHA tells her that he’s going to transfer her to the suburban PHA that serves the neighborhood where the apartment is located. That means Marie has to fill out a new set of application forms and attend another orientation briefing before she can go back to the landlord and sign a lease.
Stories like Marie’s aren’t uncommon. Sometimes the complexity of this process confuses and discourages families, so they give up and take an apartment in a less desirable neighborhood. Or so much time elapses that their voucher expires. Or the landlord gets tired of waiting and rents the apartment to somebody else.
We can do better.
Since the 1970s, rental vouchers have been a mainstay of federal housing policy. Recipients choose a house or apartment available in the private market and contribute about 30 percent of their incomes toward rent, while the program pays the difference, up to a locally defined “payment standard.”
Three-and-a-half decades of experience have proven vouchers to be an extremely effective tool for addressing the housing needs of low-income families. Most households that get a voucher succeed in finding a house or apartment where they can receive assistance, and recipients generally live in better quality housing and pay more affordable rent burdens than similar, unassisted households.
But the voucher program can be hard for families to navigate.
In most parts of the country, the housing voucher program is administered by local PHAs. These agencies were originally established to build and manage public housing developments, and this remains the primary function of most. Although they are governed by a complex set of national rules and procedures, local PHAs have considerable discretion over how the voucher program operates within their jurisdictions. Each PHA, for example, accepts applications, maintains its own waiting list, establishes local selection preferences, recruits landlords to participate in the program, and conducts housing inspections. This can pose real challenges for families.
In a new Brookings paper, Bruce Katz and I argue for streamlining the voucher program by shifting its governance to one organization or consortium per metro area. We know this can work because some PHAs are already doing it.
In the Chicago region, for example, eight PHAs, the Metropolitan Planning Council, and a nonprofit counseling agency (Housing Choice Partners) have formed a consortium, which (among other things) will help voucher families that want to move between jurisdictions. With support from HUD, this two-year pilot project is testing approaches to improving outcomes for voucher families.
One element of the pilot will make the boundaries between jurisdictions “invisible.” When voucher families decide they want to move to a different jurisdiction, they are referred to Housing Choice Partner’s “portability advocate” for information on searching for housing and about neighborhoods that offer opportunity. Housing Choice Partners will notify both the sending and the receiving PHA once a family finds a house or apartment. The two PHAs will then handle the transfer seamlessly without additional work for the voucher family.
HUD should encourage more PHAs to adopt similar strategies, using its oversight and regulatory powers to create incentives for them to do so. This kind of smart reform can make a proven program work more efficiently and improve outcomes for the families it serves.
Apartment image from Shutterstock
Filed under: Built Environment, Government |Tags: Housing vouchers can work better for families 1 Comment »
| Posted: September 26th, 2013
What’s the right geographic scale for urban planning and decisionmaking?
Over the last few decades, most scholars and policymakers have gotten used to thinking beyond the political boundaries of cities and have focused on the shared challenges and assets facing metropolitan regions. We recognize that housing choices, job opportunities, commuting patterns, and business investment decisions all cross jurisdictional lines, and that solutions to many of our most vexing problems lie at the metropolitan scale. The absence of metro-scale governance often frustrates the achievement of these solutions. But increasingly, city and suburban political and civic leaders are finding ways to work regionally.
Maybe we should be thinking even bigger.
In a new MetroTrends commentary, Henry Cisneros suggests that metropolitan regions can and should be working in partnership with other, nearby cities and metros with which their economic future is closely interconnected.
As a starting point for thinking at this larger, collaborative scale, he’s identified 18 dominant metropolitan areas, each of which is the hub for a larger network of metros. This approach yields a coherent urban system of 18 metropolitan networks made up of the nation's 100 largest metros.
Let’s take a look at these metro networks.
In the “Great Northwest Metros,” manufacturing jobs are expanding, while in the “Florida Triangle” they’re on the decline. For a low-wage worker, rents are considerably more affordable in the “Basketball Legacy Metros” than in the “Global Metropolis.” And residential segregation is a lot less severe in the “Northern Plains Complex” than in the adjacent “Midwest Heartland.”
Cisneros’s goal in naming and describing these networks is to encourage decisionmakers at city, state, and federal levels to focus more attention on the economic engines that will drive their prosperity in the decades ahead, and on the infrastructure investments needed to support not only growth, but also equity of opportunity and quality of life.
Comparing the performance of these 18 metro networks could spark new conversations about 21st century urban policy in an inter-connected nation.
Filed under: Built Environment, Government |Tags: Cisneros, metro, planning, policy, Urban Institute Add a Comment »
Laurie Goodman Taz George
| Posted: September 24th, 2013
It just got a little harder to buy a home. Fannie Mae recently announced that it would reduce the maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio for loans it purchases from 97 percent to 95 percent—meaning that borrowers now have to contribute a minimum 5 percent down payment, instead of 3 percent. This change places yet another barrier in front of low- and moderate-income families, who are already facing a tightening credit box.
Effective November 1, 2013, Fannie Mae’s new policy will apply to both standard mortgages and affordability products (such as My Community mortgages). Freddie Mac made the same move several years ago. There are three things worth noting, which we discuss below:
- Ninety-five to 97 percent LTV mortgages are a small fraction of recent mortgage originations purchased by Fannie Mae.
- Borrowers can still take out loans with LTVs above 95 percent through the FHA, VA, or USDA, so future loans will essentially shift from one set of taxpayer-backed institutions to another.
- If the intent was to reduce risk, this was a crude way to accomplish it. The default rate for 95 to 97 percent LTV mortgages is only slightly higher than for 90 to 95 LTV mortgages, and the default rate for high FICO loans with 95 to 97 LTV ratios is lower than the default rate for low FICO loans with 90 to 95 percent LTV ratios.
Only a small share of loans purchased by Fannie Mae have very high LTV ratios
Looking at Fannie Mae’s loan-level credit database, we find that between 1999 and 2012, 95 to 97 percent LTV loans comprised just under 1 percent of total originations purchased by Fannie Mae. From 1999 to 2000, these loans accounted for 3 to 3.5 percent of total originations; from 2001 to 2004, about 1 to 2 percent; and since 2005, well below 1 percent of loans purchased by Fannie Mae. These numbers understate the share of these loans, as Fannie Mae’s database excludes affordability products. It includes only 30 year, fixed rate, amortizing, full documentation loans, approximately half of Fannie’s full book of business. In addition, our data only includes originations through H1 2012, and anecdotal evidence suggests that the share of high LTV loans has risen since FHA raised its insurance premium in April 2013. Even so, the point remains: loan originations above 95 percent LTV are a tiny fraction of total originations purchased by Fannie Mae.
Very high LTV borrowers will turn to the FHA, not the private sector
If the GSEs stop purchasing above 95 percent LTV mortgages, then borrowers are likely to seek other low–down payment alternatives, such as loans made through the FHA (or, for select borrowers, the VA or USDA). Loans made through the FHA, however, come at a higher cost because of FHA’s higher mortgage insurance premiums. These mortgages will have government guarantees, so Fannie’s policy change isn’t limiting taxpayer risk—rather, it’s limiting options for borrowers.
Fannie Mae’s policy change is part of a continuing trend of tighter credit, which may make it harder for some families to buy homes. As my Urban Institute colleagues have found, homeownership is central to the ability of most Americans to build wealth.
What is Fannie Mae’s intent?
One’s first thought is that these measures were taken to reduce risk. However, the evidence does not support the point that a sharp cutoff at 95 percent LTV is the best way to accomplish this goal. Instead, the default rate of Fannie Mae loans, as on all loan products, depends on the mortgage’s complete set of risk characteristics.
The default rates for different FICO and LTV combinations of the loans originated in four select issue years—2001, 2004, 2007, and 2011—are shown in the table below. Between 1999 and 2012, the overall default rate for 90 to 95 percent LTV mortgages was 6.9 percent. It was marginally higher, at 7.1 percent, for the 95 to 97 percent LTV mortgages (see table below).
For mortgages with an LTV ratio above 80 percent, credit scores are a better predictor of default rates than LTV ratios. Looking at the rates for loans originated in 2001, the overall default rate for the 90 to 95 percent LTV bucket was 3.2 percent, which is marginally lower than the 3.6 percent rate for the 95 to 97 percent LTV loans. However, note that borrowers with FICO scores below 700 and with 90 to 95 percent LTV ratios had a default rate of 5 percent, higher than the overall default rate of 3.6 percent for the 95 to 97 percent LTV bucket, and much higher than the 2.3 percent default rate for 95 to 97 percent LTV loans in which the borrower had a FICO score between 700 and 750.
This pattern is apparent in loans originated in each and every vintage year, as shown in the table. The true default rates may be understated because the data excludes affordability products, but the relationship is clear.
If Fannie Mae had made a statement that it was cutting off credit to borrowers who had a probability of default above a certain level, then its intention would have been clearer. We would have hoped that the rich data provided by the Great Recession would give the GSEs the confidence to underwrite higher LTV loans with compensating factors, as the importance of these factors has been well tested and documented. Instead, Fannie Mae has chosen to draw sharp lines around a smaller permissible credit box without accounting for compensating factors.
Filed under: Built Environment |Tags: fannie mae, Urban Institute 5 Comments »
| Posted: August 28th, 2013
Fifty years after the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, we all recall the dreams expressed by our civil rights pioneers. Words from Whitney Young continue to ring in my ears in particular: “[Negro Americans] must march from the rat-infested, over-crowded ghettos to decent, wholesome, unrestricted residential areas disbursed throughout our cities. . . ”
That most of the inadequate housing conditions have been addressed is a testament to our country’s commitments and strength. Since the 1960s, homes with one or more serious problems related to heating, plumbing, and electrical systems or maintenance have become a very small segment of both the whole “worst case needs” population and the bigger group of households.
But there are also very low-income households that continue to face housing problems that are caused entirely or partially by the poor physical quality of the homes they occupy—and these numbers have grown during the recent housing crisis and recession.
In its recently released 2011 Worst Case Housing Needs report, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notes that 6.7 percent of the very low-income unassisted renter population in 2011 had severely inadequate housing— about 570,000 very low-income renter households at last count. There are also an additional 650,000 renters that aren’t very low-income and 922,000 owner households that live in severely inadequate housing conditions.
Further, there is a slight racial gap in housing quality. Just over three percent of white and 3.5 percent of Hispanic very low-income renters live in severely inadequate housing. Nearly five percent of very low-income African-American renters live in these conditions.
Interestingly, the numbers of owner households who are facing just moderately inadequate housing have slightly dropped during the recession, while the severely inadequate housing numbers have increased. Are properties simply being allowed to fall into disrepair? On the whole, we know that American housing does not suffer from severe physical problems. When these problems do exist, they tend to be addressed efficiently, so we might expect severe conditions to be rectified once the economy improves.
But for the rental market, both severely and moderately inadequate housing have increased. When we look at the lowest-income households, the picture is even starker. But is this not a temporary situation for them as well?
For very low-income households that own their homes, in fact, we see a similar decrease in moderate inadequacy and increase in severe inadequacy over the recession years as we see in the overall population—though with the severely inadequate housing now slightly surpassing those in just moderately inadequate housing.
For the renters among these families, though, both moderate and severe housing inadequacy increased significantly over the recession. These conditions give pause.
Affordability is still the most critical factor for most households, and the challenge of finding affordable homes should not be understated for all of the very low-income unassisted families. But the persistence of poor quality housing in the U.S. is inexcusable on all counts. With cities having fewer municipal staff to monitor these conditions, tenants being unable or willing to complain about poor housing conditions because of their lack of options, and decreased public and private funds to repair or replace this housing, we just might see this “tiny” segment of Americans and American homes continue to expand.
Filed under: Built Environment, Economy |Tags: housing, March on Washington, MLK, Urban Institute Add a Comment »
| Posted: August 27th, 2013
“We cannot be satisfied as long as the colored person’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one.” Martin Luther King Jr., 1963
One way to assess whether black Americans have gained greater mobility is to measure how much black-white segregation has changed since Dr. King’s March on Washington quote 50 years ago.
To do so, my Urban Institute colleagues examined 40 years of neighborhood-level data for hundreds of American cities. They constructed a measure of black-white segregation for which scores of 0 mean every neighborhood has the same black-white mix and 100 means no blacks and whites live together.
The upshot is that in 40 years—since two years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act and other landmark civil rights legislation—segregation has declined on average 27 percent from very high levels (76) to pretty high levels (56). In other words, there’s been modest progress on a deep problem.
The slow decline is especially pronounced in some large metros with large black populations. New York, where around 15 percent of the population is black, actually saw its segregation score increase from 75.0 to 76.4. Chicago, which is 17 percent black, dropped from a sky-high 90.5 to 74.5.
Interestingly, sometime around the year 2000, metros with small black populations began integrating at a faster clip (see chart above). In Boulder, Colorado, only 1.2 percent of the population was black in 2010, but the metro has a very low segregation score of 16.3. New York’s 16.8 percent black population lives in a city with a high segregation score of 76.8. So are blacks in Boulder better off? Has New York missed an important opportunity?
It’s hard to say. But we do know that segregation along racial lines has contributed to the vast disparities in opportunity between the races. A 2009 paper by my colleagues Marge Turner and Lynette Rawlings summarizes succinctly:
Racial segregation has excluded blacks and other minorities from neighborhoods that offer high-quality housing, schools, and other public services and has deprived predominantly minority neighborhoods of essential public services and private investments. Today, even middle-class minority neighborhoods have lower house price appreciation, fewer neighborhood amenities, lower-performing schools, and higher crime rates than white neighborhoods with comparable income levels.
For example, Prince George’s County, Maryland, the most afﬂuent African American community in the nation, lacks the department stores, sitdown restaurants, specialty stores, and other amenities typical of comparable white communities.
It’s clear that Dr. King’s statement remains an important reminder of the ways in which the economic deck is still stacked against many
Filed under: Built Environment, Economy |Tags: March on Washington, MLK, neighborhoods, segregation, Urban Institute Add a Comment »
| Posted: August 23rd, 2013
The issues we’ve reflected on at length in our commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington often center on a person’s home, neighborhood and city. Fifty years ago, Dr. King said, “One hundred years [after emancipation] the colored American lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.”
I sat down with Margery Turner, Urban Institute Senior Vice President, and Rolf Pendall, director of the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, to talk about that lonely island in concrete terms. What follows is a lightly edited version of their discussion on racial isolation and concentrated poverty in neighborhoods.
Margery Turner: When I write about the persistence of poverty and segregation and their bad effects, I often argue that one piece of the solution is enabling poor people of color to move to neighborhoods where everything already works. To some extent that means moving to predominately white, suburban neighborhoods where the schools are good and the parks are safe.
Rolf, I think you’ve raised concerns about that as a remedy. What’s the point-counter point on that?
Rolf Pendall: My perspective is that places remain poor, and are subject to becoming poor in national crises, for a lot of different reasons. But for some people, especially immigrants, those neighborhoods actually play a pretty important role in acculturation and in getting jobs. It’s worth asking, is moving away the right answer for those people? Is there perhaps something else going on there that we want to acknowledge and accommodate, even in the face of concentrated poverty?
MT: Really interesting point. Given our history, a bunch of the high poverty neighborhoods in central cities with predominately black populations have operated as isolating traps for their residents. But there is another group of neighborhoods that may “look” just as bad, but aren’t traps. Maybe they’re launch pads. They might be poor, they might look bad, they might be undesirable places to stay, but they perform really constructive acculturation, integration, linkage functions. People move into them, do well in them, and move on.
Pushing people to move out of those neighborhoods too soon isn’t doing them or the neighborhood any favors.
RP: That’s one kind of neighborhood. But there’s a whole different set, too, especially in deindustrializing metros where the regional housing market is flat but housing construction continues on the fringe. This offers opportunities for many households to live in neighborhoods that are okay, if not great. That’s a source of constant drainage from city centers.
The people who are left behind are those living in concentrated poverty. It’s situations like those where accommodating more mobility by low-income people is a good principle. But as long as there is not a real commitment to helping the lowest-income and most vulnerable, then mobility isn’t the only answer. It has to be accompanied by something else: we must start by ending so much construction on the fringe.
MT: And the something else that you have suggested is different from what most people talk about in this context. Most people also advocate reinvesting in those old neighborhoods so they become great places to live.
You’re saying something different: you also have to stop adding more, newer housing stock in the suburbs and exurbs that is sucking population out of the central city. That is exacerbating the distress. Reinvesting isn’t going to work if you have this big centrifugal force from the exurban housing market.
RP: From a political standpoint, also, investing in these neighborhoods will delegitimize community development because those investments are destined to fail by the operation of the metropolitan housing market.
MT: To sum, I want to come back to a couple of themes around enabling people to move out. Perhaps it’s not a solution to concentrated poverty from the neighborhood’s perspective, but it may be the most ethical policy recommendation for the families who want to do that.
RP: We need to connect our responses to concentrated poverty to the metropolitan context. Houston, Detroit, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. all have neighborhoods with high poverty rates – but we can’t help the people in those neighborhoods succeed with the same mobility and community development strategies.
Hanging shoes photo from Shutterstock.
Filed under: Built Environment |Tags: MLK, neighborhood, poverty, segregation, Urban Institute 1 Comment »
| Posted: August 19th, 2013
Fifty years after the March on Washington, we are still dealing with the legacy of the federal government’s decision to permit local housing authorities to build huge public housing developments in poor, black communities.
As my colleagues and I discussed in our 2008 book, Public Housing and the Legacy of Segregation, the consequences of this decision were disastrous for both residents and communities. Instead of offering poor, African-American families decent housing and new opportunities, public housing helped reinforce patterns of concentrated poverty and racial segregation.
The original motivation for building this housing was to alleviate poverty—to clear slums and provide decent, affordable places to live. Much of this housing was intended for the many African-American families who had made their way north as part of the Great Migration and were now crowded in tenements that lacked basic facilities—running water, flush toilets, and reliable heat.
Initially, it seemed like these new developments might live up to their promise. In St. Louis and Chicago, the opening of high-rise developments like Pruitt-Igoe and Robert Taylor Homes were greeted with great fanfare, touting the modern, clean apartments.
But these developments were built in already poor, racially segregated communities. Chicago and Washington, D.C. constructed new highways and train lines that cut residents off from the rest of the city. These “modern” high-rises quickly became national symbols of the failures of the War on Poverty, suffering all the ills of chronic poverty and disadvantage: female-headed households, high rates of unemployment, low levels of education, shocking levels of physical and mental illness, and most of all, overwhelming drug trafficking and violent crime. After just 15 years, the St. Louis Housing Authority declared its showplace Pruitt-Igoe uninhabitable; film of the 1975 demolition of the homes made the national news.
Many factors contributed to the failures of public housing in the United States.
- Poor design and construction coupled with ineffective management meant that the buildings quickly deteriorated.
- The large numbers of multi-bedroom units meant that the properties were dominated by big families, creating an “unnatural” adult-child ratio that contributed to vandalism and disorder.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) failed to provide adequate funding for operations, prompting housing authorities to hike tenant rents, driving out those who could afford better options.
- The Brooke Amendment, passed in 1969, capped rents at 30 percent of tenants’ income and provided operating funds, but made public housing less attractive for working families with higher incomes.
- The Reagan administration, under pressure to do something about the rise in homelessness, gave homeless families and individuals priority for public housing.
- As conditions deteriorated, families who could afford better options fled, leaving behind a population increasingly dominated by the poorest and most vulnerable families.
The transformation of public housing that began in the 1990s with the HOPE VI program has led to the demolition of much of the worst housing. New mixed-income developments constructed with today’s best design principles have replaced dilapidated properties in many cities. And the Section 8 voucher program has offered poor families the opportunity to find housing in the private market, sometimes even providing assistance with finding housing in areas that should offer greater opportunity—better schools, parks, and access to jobs.
But, while these efforts mean that many residents are now living in better housing in safer neighborhoods and have a better quality of life, even the most ambitious efforts have done little to help lift these families out of poverty. As we concluded in our book, until we as a nation are willing to have an honest conversation about the legacy of racial segregation in public housing, these families are likely to continue to be left behind.
Public housing photo from Shutterstock
Filed under: Built Environment, People |Tags: March on Washington, MLK, public housing, segregation, Urban Institute 2 Comments »
| Posted: April 17th, 2013
Recently, Sophie Litschwartz found that many of our larger metro areas with large black populations are only slightly more integrated than they were a few decades ago. Meanwhile, smaller metros with small black populations have been integrating at a much more rapid pace. Why this is occurring remains a mystery.
To evaluate metro segregation levels, Sophie calculated a commonly used measure called a dissimilarity index, which rates neighborhoods from 0 (complete integration) to 100 (complete segregation). To better illustrate what these scores mean, I’ve put together an interactive map that covers the 268 metros in our study (and rural areas as well).
View the full-screen map here
The map shows how black-white segregation levels have changed over time. What do New York’s stagnating scores of 75.0 in 1970 and 76.4 in 2010 look like? What does progress in a more integrated Washington, D.C., (80.3 in 1970 to 60.1 in 2010) look like? To find out, explore the map above.
This analysis is based on the neighborhood change database (NCDB). Note that the database does not contain data for all census tracts in 1970 because it does not provide data for “untracted” areas.
Filed under: Built Environment |Tags: 1970, 2010, black, metro, metropolitan diversity, MetroTrends, segregation, Urban Institute, white 1 Comment »