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Overcoming Concentrated Poverty and Isolation (Executive Summary) (Research Report)
Margery Austin Turner, Lynette A. Rawlings

During the 1990s, the Department of Housing and Urban Development launched three rigorous research demonstrations testing alternative strategies for helping low-income families escape the isolation and distress of high-poverty, central-city communities. All three demonstrations were carefully designed to include rigorous controls and systematic data collection so that their implementation and impacts could be systematically evaluated. And all three are now generating provocative results that offer new insights for ongoing program experimentation and policy development. We draw ten broad lessons--including lessons about the potential for success, about the realities families face, about implementing complex strategies, and about obstacles to success. [View the corresponding brief]

Posted to Web: July 29, 2005Publication Date: July 29, 2005

The Impact of Community Development Corporations on Urban Neighborhoods (Research Report)
George Galster, Diane K. Levy, Noah Sawyer, Kenneth Temkin, Christopher Walker

Supporters of urban revitalization have relied on community development corporations (CDCs) to carry a major share of the front-line burden. This research presents new evidence that these community-controlled, market-responsive organizations can indeed spark a chain reaction of investment. Advanced econometric analysis shows that CDC residential and commercial investments have led to increases in property values--the single-best measure of neighborhood improvement--as great as 69 percent higher than they would have been otherwise. To achieve these results, CDCs did more than just develop projects; they also brought business people, civic organizations, and public agencies into the neighborhood improvement process.

Posted to Web: June 30, 2005Publication Date: June 30, 2005

Beyond Housing: Growing Community Development Systems (Research Report)
Avis C. Vidal, Langley C. Keyes

This report explores how the community development system--relationships among providers of finance, expertise, and political influence needed to carry out community development functions--has begun to move into activities other than housing. It concludes that in moving to scale in other arenas, three functions are critical: a capable national or local intermediary with strong relationships throughout the system and a willingness to move beyond its current players; individual CDCs working collaboratively--or at least using shared approaches--across neighborhoods; and new players at the city-wide level joining to meet the needs of the new activity.

Posted to Web: June 30, 2005Publication Date: June 30, 2005

How to Better Encourage Homeownership (Policy Briefs/Tax Policy: Issues and Options)
Adam Carasso, C. Eugene Steuerle, Elizabeth Bell

The way federal housing benefits are doled out suggests a U-shaped curve; subsidies are heaped on most households at higher incomes and some at very low incomes. Those in between get little. This brief describes revenue-neutral reforms that would level out the U-shaped curve and deliver ownership subsidies more equitably and efficiently to lower-to-middle-income households. Converting home-related tax deductions into refundable, capped credits introduces greater progressivity into the tax system, encourages homeownership among those at lower incomes, and curtails government subsidies for ever greater amounts of home borrowing.

Posted to Web: June 29, 2005Publication Date: June 29, 2005

Improving Homeownership Among Poor And Moderate-Income Households (Policy Briefs/Opportunity and Ownership Project)
Adam Carasso, Elizabeth Bell, Edgar O. Olsen, C. Eugene Steuerle

No asset is more important in expanding opportunity and hedging against economic uncertainty than owning a home. While homeownership may not be for everyone, strong disincentives are created by federal policies that subsidize poor families to rent but cut off these subsidies should they choose to buy. Meanwhile, federal tax incentives for homeownership only go to those households owing tax--and typically the higher their income and the more expensive their homes, the larger the tax subsidy. Ownership incentives need to change to correct this inequity and better promote homeownership among the poor.

Posted to Web: June 20, 2005Publication Date: June 20, 2005

Public Housing Transformation and the "Hard to House" (Policy Briefs/Metropolitan Housing and Communities: A Roof Over Their Heads)
Mary K. Cunningham, Susan J. Popkin, Martha R. Burt

Public housing transformation has largely failed to address the more complex needs of "hard-to-house" residents who have relied on public housing as a source of stable, if less than ideal, housing. The hard-to-house such as high-need households, grandparents caring for grandchildren, families with disabled members, very large households, and multiple-barrier families. For these vulnerable families, the same public housing transformation that may offer better housing and new opportunities for other tenants can be just one more blow. This brief lays out a strategy for serving hard-to-house residents who remain in distressed public housing or who are experiencing hardship as a result of HOPE VI-related relocation.

Posted to Web: June 09, 2005Publication Date: June 09, 2005

Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities: Barriers at Every Step (Research Report)
Margery Austin Turner, Carla Herbig, Deborah R. Kaye, Julie Fenderson, Diane K. Levy

Not enough is known about the prevalence of housing discrimination against persons with disabilities. Only slightly more than half of Americans know that it is illegal for landlords to refuse to make reasonable accommodation for persons with disabilities or to permit reasonable modification to a housing unit. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) contracted with the Urban Institute to advance the state of the art in testing to measure discrimination against persons with disabilities. UI found that persons with the disabilities studied encountered significant levels of adverse treatment when searching for rental housing in the Chicago area--even more than that of African-American or Hispanic renters in the Chicago-area housing market.

Posted to Web: June 01, 2005Publication Date: June 01, 2005

Federal Reserve Governor Edward Gramlich Is Named the Urban Institute's First Richard B. Fisher Senior Fellow (Press Release)
Urban Institute

Edward Gramlich, a member of the Federal Reserve System’s Board of Governors since 1997, will become the Urban Institute’s first Richard B. Fisher Senior Fellow in September. A distinguished educator, researcher, and federal official, Gramlich will focus on community redevelopment, affordable housing, and entitlement issues.

Posted to Web: May 18, 2005Publication Date: May 18, 2005

Preserving the Strengths of the Housing Choice Voucher Program: Statement of Margery Austin Turner before the Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, Committee on Financial Services, United States House of Representatives (Testimony)
Margery Austin Turner

The Housing Choice Voucher program plays a critical role in our nation's housing policy. One of its greatest strengths is that it allows families to choose the type of housing and neighborhood that best meets their needs. Social science research clearly shows that living in a distressed, high-poverty neighborhood undermines the well-being of families and the long-term life chances of children. When families are able to move to healthier communities, their lives improve measurably. The proposed State and Local Housing Flexibility Act of 2005 threatens to restrict choice and mobility for voucher families. The current voucher program certainly does not work perfectly, and growing experience points to promising strategies for addressing its weaknesses.

Posted to Web: May 17, 2005Publication Date: May 17, 2005

Preserving "Choice" in the Housing Choice Voucher Program (Opinion)
Mary K. Cunningham, Susan J. Popkin, Margery Austin Turner

The authors review the policy implications of "The State and Local Housing Flexibility Act of 2005," which was recently introduced in the Senate and House. Drawing on Urban Institute research, they discuss significant limitations on housing choice for families with housing vouchers and the possibility that many may end in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Posted to Web: May 05, 2005Publication Date: May 05, 2005

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