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Preserving Neighborhood Opportunity: Where Federal Housing Subsidies Expire.


Rent burdens are increasing in U.S. metropolitan areas while subsidies on privately owned, publicly subsidized rental units are expiring. As a result, some of the few remaining affordable units in opportunity neighborhoods are at risk of being converted to market rate. Policy makers face a decision about whether to devote their efforts and scarce resources toward developing new affordable housing, recapitalizing existing subsidized housing, and/or preserving properties with expiring subsidies. There are several reasons to preserve these subsidies, one being that properties may be located in neighborhoods with greater opportunity. In this article, we use several sources of data at the census tract level to learn how subsidy expirations affect neighborhood opportunity for low-income households. Our analysis presents several key findings. First, we find that units that left the project-based Section 8 program were - on average - in lower opportunity neighborhoods, but these neighborhoods were improving. In addition, properties due to expiry from the Section 8 program between 2011 and 2020 are in higher opportunity neighborhoods than any other subsidy program. On the contrary, new Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) units were developed in tracts similar to those where LIHTC units are currently active, which tend to be lower opportunity neighborhoods.

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