Report Finds Residents Generally Satisfied with LIHTC Housing
A recent report from the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley, “The Links Between Affordable Housing and Economic Mobility: The Experiences of Residents Living in Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Properties,” examined the experiences of tenants living in LIHTC housing. The report finds that tenants are generally satisfied with the housing stability, economic mobility, and access to education provided by LIHTC housing.
The Terner Center conducted interviews and surveys of more than 250 tenants across 18 LIHTC properties in California. The sample was limited to properties serving families. One third of the properties were in neighborhoods with poverty rates below 20 percent, another third were in neighborhoods with poverty rates between 21 percent and 30 percent, and the final third were located in neighborhoods with poverty rates exceeding 30 percent.
The report points out that, in many ways, LIHTC is working. It finds that in California, LIHTC sites play an important role in stabilizing families in high-quality housing, allowing them to focus on education, employment, and other dimensions of economic mobility. The promise of stable, affordable rent over the long term led many residents to invest in their professional development, such as by pursuing an advanced or technical degree or by learning English, and helped them to keep their jobs by reducing involuntary moves. Parents consistently reported better outcomes for their children as well, and while there were concerns raised about the quality of local schools, many parents had figured out how to best address their child’s educational needs, and 75 percent were happy with their children’s education. The significant share of children who were planning to (or attending) college was also a positive finding.
In neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty, research found that LIHTC sites are providing better housing quality and stronger property management than what is available in the private market. The majority of residents already lived in the same or similar neighborhood before moving into a LIHTC site.
The report also concludes that property management really matters to the resident experience, and found that this could be uneven across sites. In interviews, residents discussed challenges with high turnover among property management or resident services staff. At some developments, it was clear that residents were deeply appreciative and had strong connections to the property manager, but in other cases, the researcher also heard reports of property managers who held racist views of some residents and who didn’t communicate rules or rents effectively.