Stable, affordable housing provides benefits to both people with low incomes and local economies overall. Despite these benefits, property owners who live near proposed affordable housing developments often oppose such projects, citing fear that the developments will cause their property values to decline. However, empirical research provides little evidence that subsidized housing depresses neighborhood property values. To add to this knowledge base, we use Zillow’s assessor and real estate database to estimate the relationship between affordable housing developments in Alexandria, Virginia, and sales prices of nearby single-family homes, duplexes, cooperatives, and residential condominiums between 2000 and 2020. We use a repeat sales model that estimates the change in sales prices before and after an affordable housing development is built near a home. We find that affordable units in the city of Alexandria are associated with a small but statistically significant increase in property values of 0.09 percent within 1/16 of a mile of a development, on average—a distance comparable to a typical urban block. These results are robust to other radii and comparison groups, such as comparing homes within a block with homes within a few blocks or comparing homes within a block with homes between half a mile and one mile away. The positive relationship between affordable units and nearby home sales in Alexandria may reflect strong local oversight and the close relationship between the city and affordable housing developers. These findings should ease residents’ concerns about the impact of affordable housing on neighborhoods and bolster support for increased development.
This brief was updated on April 22, 2022, to acknowledge data sourcing from Zillow.