- Feb 2017
Affordable Housing: The Case for Demand-Side Subsidies in Superstar Cities Summary by Radhika Raj
In this article, Adam Zeidel examines locally funded affordable housing programs in what he calls, “superstar cities”. A superstar city “is defined by Gyourko et al.; a superstar city is one ‘[in which] demand exceeds supply and supply growth is limited” (Zeidel, 135). Other characteristics of superstar cities include people wanting to pay a large premium to live there, and a disproportionate distribution of wealth.
Zeidel studies New York City. This is done because of the large amount of money ($6.4 billion, Zeidel, 136) taken from local resources for affordable housing. Zeidel believes that the academics, policy-makers, and developers have an unclear goal for affording housing policy. It is implied that this is the reason programs do not line up with their policies.
The most common demographic that benefited from affordable housing policies in New York was seniors. “The existence of senior housing programs indicates that a charitable motive underlies some affordable housing programs” (Zeidel, 138). In this paper, the types of programs that are examined are “government-run public housing, regulation, price controls, subsidies, and tax incentives” (Zeidel, 140). Subsidy programs in New York mainly involve the city giving loans to private developers in order to make affordable housing. “…the Housing Development Corporation (“HDC”) reports that it has committed “$578 million dollars of its corporate reserves to finance the preservation and creation of 25,000 apartments for low, moderate, and middle-income New Yorkers” (Zeidel, 140). Supply side subsidies give incentives such as tax benefits, bonuses, and financing assistance for the preservation of affordable housing. Zeidel also examines demand side subsidies in New York City. It was found that very little of their resources were used compared to the supply side subsidies.
Even though supply side subsidies were more likely to be favored and funded by the city, Zeidel found that demand side subsidies were more efficient, effective, flexible, and transparent. It was found that “virtually every empirical study performed over the past twenty-five years has found that demand-oriented subsidies are more efficient than supply side subsidies” (Zeidel, 143). It was also found that the demand side subsidies could help more citizens equally rather than helping few substantially. They also scored high in equity. This means that there was a more equal treatment in similar scenarios. Demand side subsidies also were more beneficial because there was a clear cost and benefit. These characteristics were found to be more beneficial overall to the population.
Zeidel, Adam. “Affordable Housing: The Case for Demand-Side Subsidies in Superstar Cities.” The Urban Lawyer, vol. 42, no. 1, 2010, pp. 135–169., www.jstor.org/stable/27895769.
Eroding the Wealth of Women: Gender and the Subprime Foreclosure Crisis By Amy Castro Baker Summary by Radhika Raj
In this article, Baker talks about how mortgage markets have evolved to create a policy gap which creates new forms of gender inequality in the housing and lending markets. This article seeks to analyze how single women are affected by gender inequality in the lending market where their loans are characterized by high levels of default and foreclosure.
The article begins by defining certain key characteristics between traditional prime mortgages and subprime mortgages. Baker explains that “home owners with a subprime mortgage are six to nine times more likely than those with a traditional prime mortgage to be in foreclosure (Renuart 2004; Schloemer et al. 2006)” (59-60). Subprime mortgages are high cost and high risk because they depend on the state of the market. Baker claims that subprime mortgages “tend to be more prevalent in neighborhoods of color where women are predominately the heads of households” (60). This implies that mostly women, specifically women of color, are the ones affected by the risks associated with subprime mortgages.
Subprime mortgages were not always as prevalent in the market. Baker explains how subprime mortgages only represented a fraction of mortgages until the 1990’s. During this time, there was a shift in focus where a policy window could open and lenders began to create opportunity for the groups that were historically excluded from the mortgage process such as women, people of color, and the elderly.
In Baker’s article, she claims that single women, particularly those of color, are the ones most affected by mortgage strain in the market. Baker states that, “Single women experience higher rates of subprime lending than their male peers, even when controlling for risk factors such as credit, income, and neighborhood location” (61-62). The article talks about how the gender gap within mortgages creates a risky lending market for women, and how despite the problems of mortgage strain, there has not been much research into the sexism involved in the housing market. Baker also goes on to discuss how these risky mortgages sometimes end in homelessness. Even in this situation, it was found that women had a more difficult time with homelessness compared to men.
Overall, Baker’s article seeks to explain the reason why women experience gender inequality in housing markets. These inequalities are characterized by the number of subprime mortgages loaned to women, and the amount of mortgage strain that these women have to endure.
No Renters in My Suburban Backyard: Land Use Regulation and Rental Housing A Summary by Radhika Raj
In this article Schuetz talks about how low and moderate income families are unable to move to more desirable suburban areas because of high cost housing and rental prices. A key point to this article is how certain forms of local zoning and land use regulations are increasing housing prices because of a reduced supply of housing in desirable areas. She uses literature from Anthony Downs to examine how land use, zoning, and rent prices affect equal housing opportunity.
Schuetz introduces this topic by bringing up a point made in Anthony Downs’ book Opening Up the Suburbs. Downs makes a point that the achievement of society cannot go forward without equal opportunity for all social classes. He claims that the exclusion of lower social classes from living in more desirable suburban areas “will eventually undermine achievement of one of our fundamental goals: true equality of opportunity” (Downs, 1973, p. vii). Starting with this idea, Schuetz makes the point that excluding low-income families could lead to a gap in opportunity for less affluent families. For example, she talks about how by being excluded from a neighborhood can lead to poor families living in areas where they have less employment opportunities, less access to good quality schools, and even less access to public services as well as physical environment. While it may be argued that these families may not have access to these resources because of poor employment potential, lack of skills, or financial irresponsibility, Schuetz makes the argument that zoning codes have a large impact on who can afford to live in improved suburban areas.
The article examines these claims by looking at the prices of rent and how they are affected by zoning policies. The results of the analysis state that housing regulations hinder production of multifamily housing. This causes a small decrease in rents, but there was no significant association between the increase of multifamily housing and rent prices. Another zoning regulation that is discussed is the increase of greenbelts correlating with increased housing prices. Growth control policies such as greenbelts increase rent prices because they decrease the amount of land available to zone for housing. Traditional zoning policies such as minimum lot size also have an impact on rent prices. These zoning policies are known to raise rent prices by creating a demand of high income housing, with high income resources. Schuetz examines how the small amount of land is zoned for multifamily housing to restrict rental housing. Municipalities can also restrict rentals by creating barriers to development such as special permits.
Overall, these restrictions suggest that regulations impede the development of new rental housing, which causes housing prices to increase. The effects of zoning are less clear based on the research but it is suggested that the requirement of special permits hinders the ability for multifamily homes to have access to better suburban areas.