Fannie Mae Foundation

This article evaluates the relative performance of housing programs in terms of neighborhood quality. Neighborhood characteristics surrounding assisted housing units are profiled and the direction of assisted housing policy in light of this information is assessed. The analysis relies on a housing census database we developed that identifies the type and census tract location of assisted housing units - that is, public housing developments assisted under the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Direct Loan Program, the low-income housing tax credit, certificates and vouchers, and state rental assistance programs. It is concluded that project-based assistance programs do little to improve the quality of recipients' neighborhoods relative to those of welfare households and, in the case of public housing, appear to make things significantly worse. The certificate and voucher programs, however, appear to reduce the probability that families will live in the most economically and socially distressed areas.


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