San Diego’s City Heights Initiative

Research Report

San Diego’s City Heights Initiative

A Long-Term Impact Evaluation of a Comprehensive Community Initiative
January 13, 2022


San Diego’s City Heights Initiative—a comprehensive community initiative—has directly invested or leveraged more than $200 million into the City Heights community since 1995. One of nation's oldest and largest place-based efforts, the Initiative has five focus areas: retail and community facilities; education, youth services, and scholarships; public safety and beautification; housing; and employment and human services. This report uses the synthetic control method to conduct the first impact assessment of the Initiative. The City Heights Initiative caused significant population increases. The neighborhood’s economic standing, whether measured by incomes, poverty rates, home values, or rents, was little changed relative to the counterfactual. It is possible that the City Heights community functioned as a “launchpad” neighborhood with successive waves of new residents joining the neighborhood, benefiting from it, and moving away, leaving the economics of the place unchanged as they are replaced by newcomers.

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