Housing & Communities
There is a crisis in housing today
In the United States, 500,000 people on any given night are homeless. 3.9 million families do not have access to affordable housing. Across the globe, 100 million people are homeless. 1 billion live in slums, and 1.6 billion lack adequate housing or shelter.
Through our research, faculty at the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate are working to meet the challenge of creating housing that is affordable, dignified, and safe. The Institute's faculty also generate research that examines questions on how to develop and sustain thriving neighborhoods, communities, and cities that will foster innovation, human and social capital, and virtuous citizens.
Through an approach that is evidence-based, market-oriented, and consistent with human dignity and the common good, the Institute believes that, in order to address challenges like homelessness and affordable housing, scholars must evaluate the actual impact of policy interventions.
Analyzing the Effects of Evictions
Collinson presented his award-winning paper at Notre Dame: "The Effects of Evictions on Low-Income Households" (with Davin Reed). Winner: Best Paper Award, Ohio State PhD Conference on Real Estate and Housing, 2018.
Each year in the U.S., more than two million renter households report being at risk of eviction, yet there is little causal evidence on how evictions affect low-income households. We assemble novel data linking individuals from housing court cases in New York City to administrative data and leverage the random assignment of cases to courtrooms to estimate the causal effect of evictions on homelessness, health, earnings, employment, and public assistance receipt. Evictions cause large and persistent increases in risk of homelessness, elevate long-term residential instability, and increase emergency room use. We find some evidence that evictions lower earnings modestly, but little evidence that they substantially worsen employment outcomes or increase receipt of public assistance. These results suggest that eviction prevention policies could provide important consumption smoothing benefits to low-income households but are unlikely to substantially reduce poverty on their own.
For more on Collinson's work on housing, visit: "Economist Explores How Some Dallas Renters Search for Home"
Developing Market-Based Solutions for Resilient Housing Globally
Kijewski-Correa designs and implements her own programming under Engineering2Empower and partners through the Integration Lab with Habitat for Humanity International and Catholic Relief Services to develop market-based resilient housing solutions for the US, Mexico, Haiti, India, Nepal and the Philippines.
For more on Kijewski-Correa's work on housing and structural damage from natural disasters, visit:
Evaluating the Effects of the Foreclosure Crisis
In her new book, "The Foreclosure Echo: How the Hardest Hit Have Been Left Out of the Economic Recovery" (co-authored with Linda Fisher), Fox tells the story of the ordinary people whose quest for the American dream was crushed in the foreclosure crisis when they were threatened with losing their homes. The authors - each with decades of experience defending low-to-moderate-income people from foreclosure and predatory lending practices - employ a range of legal, economic, and social-science research to document these stories, showing not only how people experienced the crisis, but also how lenders and public institutions failed to protect them. The book also describes the ongoing effects of the crisis - including vacant land and abandoned buildings - and how these conditions have exacerbated the economic plight of millions of people who lost their homes and have increased inequality across the country.
For more on Fox's work on housing, visit:
Investigating the Effects of Law on Home Mortgage Discrimination
Maciá, recently hired as a visiting assistant professor, presented her paper on empirical analysis of housing discrimination at the Notre Dame Law and Economics Workshop: “How the Switch from Intent to Disparate Impact in Housing Discrimination Affects Race-Based Differentials in Mortgage Lending.”
This paper investigates the effect of changes in the legal standard for proving discrimination on lending differentials between black and white and hispanic and white applicants by exploiting a natural experiment arising when different US Circuits changed the standard at different times. Three different measurements that provide evidence for discrimination in the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data are used to assess this impact, two looking at minority-majority differentials in quantity and one measuring discrimination by looking at profitability. The measurement tracking rejection rates provides evidence that the movement to the disparate impact standard reduced the black-white and hispanic-white differentials in the decision to accept a home mortgage application. This is interpreted as evidence of a reduction in taste-based discrimination due to the analyzed loans being essentially risk-free for the banks. The measurement of profitability after the change in the legal standard provides evidence for a higher quality pool of accepted borrowers, which is also consistent with a reduction in taste-based discrimination.
Preventing Homelessness and Reducing Crime through Emergency Financial Assistance
Sullivan recently published a path-breaking article on homelessness, “Does emergency financial assistance reduce crime?” (with David Phillips & Caroline Palmer) in the Journal of Public Economics.
Does emergency financial assistance reduce criminal behavior among those experiencing negative shocks? To address this question, we exploit quasi-random variation in the allocation of temporary financial assistance to eligible individuals and families that have experienced an economic shock. Chicago's Homelessness Prevention Call Center (HPCC) connects such families and individuals with assistance, but the availability of funding varies unpredictably. Consequently, we can determine the impact of temporary assistance on crime by comparing outcomes for those who call when funds are available to those who call when no funds are available. Linking this call center information to arrest records from the Chicago Police Department, we find some evidence that total arrests fall between 1 and 2 years after the call. For violent crime, police arrest those for whom funds were available 51% less often than those who were eligible but for whom no funds were available. Single individuals drive this decrease. The decline in crime appears to be related, in part, to greater housing stability—being referred to assistance significantly decreases arrests for homelessness-related, outdoor crimes such as trespassing. However, we also find that financial assistance leads to an increase in property crime arrests. This increase is evident for family heads, but not single individuals; the increase is mostly due to shoplifting; and the timing of this increase suggests that financial assistance enables some families to take on financial obligations that they are subsequently unable to meet. Overall, the change in the mix of crime induced by financial assistance generates considerable social benefits due to the greater social cost of violence.
For more on Sullivan's work on housing and homelessness, visit: