New Report: Housing, Neighborhoods, and Opportunity

Posted by New York University on February 2, 2015

Housing, Neighborhoods, and Opportunity: The Location of New York City’s Subsidized Affordable Housing

Rent burdens for low- and moderate-income renters continue to grow in New York City, inviting calls for more affordable housing. While the primary goal in developing affordable housing should arguably be to provide safe housing at a reasonable
cost so that households have more residual income available for food, medicine, transportation, and other essential goods, housing programs also take people to particular neighborhoods. New York City neighborhoods provide widely varying access to services and opportunity. Thus, city policymakers need to pay attention not only to the number or quality of subsidized, affordable units produced, but also to the characteristics of the neighborhoods where those units are built.

Research suggests that neighborhood conditions matter to the lives of residents, though it is not clear what attributes of neighborhoods matter most.1 Still, some connections seem obvious. Living in close proximity to transportation and employment opportunities likely makes it easier for individuals to find and maintain jobs.2 High quality child care, public schools, and youth programs may allow children to learn more and make it more likely that they stay in school.3 The presence of employed neighbors may offer critical social networks that can inform residents about job opportunities and connect them to jobs.4 Finally, recent research shows that neighborhood safety is critical, especially for children. Exposure to violent crime can cause trauma and stress to children and undermine their cognitive development.5

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