Study Finds LIHTC Developers Building in Safer Places

Study Finds LIHTC Developers Building in Safer Places

Two researchers from the University of Kansas’ Department of Urban Planning recently completed a study on the locations of assisted housing units and assisted households across the nation. It examines one of the key issues that drive the design of federal low-income housing programs, which is how well federal rental assistance helps people move out of impoverished neighborhoods into safer places with access to better schools and jobs. The study updates a similar one done in the late 1990s.

"Housing programs to help the poor have changed," Professor Kirk McClure said. "For a very long time we measured our success by whether we provided families with affordable shelter. But we concentrated poverty in public housing projects and created many serious problems that also spilled over into adjacent areas. In the 1960s, we became very much more concerned about neighborhood quality."

Today, large public housing projects are disappearing. Instead, people with extremely low income are using Housing Choice Vouchers to move into private rental housing. As another alternative to public housing, the federal government is subsidizing the development of privately owned housing sites built with LIHTC credits.

The two researchers attempted to determine which programs are doing the best job of helping low-income households to locate into high-quality neighborhoods and found that the people with vouchers don't move very far and don't really improve their neighborhoods. However, the study found developers are building new low-income housing in safer, usually suburban areas.