Do Affordable Housing Projects Harm Suburban Communities? Crime, Property Values, and Property Taxes in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey
57 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2011
Date Written: June 15, 2011
This paper offers a mixed-method investigation of the community-level consequences of suburban affordable housing development. Opponents of affordable housing development often suggest that the creation of affordable housing will harm surrounding communities. Feared consequences typically include increases in crime, decreases in property values, and increases in taxes. Underlying these fears is the hypothesis that the introduction of affordable housing is associated with community decline. To empirically evaluate this hypothesis, the paper uses the case of Mt. Laurel, NJ - the site of landmark affordable housing legal cases and subsequent 100%-affordable housing development. Employing a time series group control experiment, we use simple OLS regression to compare crime, property value, and property tax outcomes in Mt. Laurel to the outcomes in similar nearby municipalities that did not build comparable 100%-affordable housing developments. We find that affordable housing development was not associated with increase crime, decreased property values, and increased taxes. To better understand the community-level consequences of affordable housing development, we also analyze 102 in-depth interviews with residents, police officers, and public officials. Overall, the findings suggest that affordable housing does not harm the communities in which it is developed. We discuss the implications of these findings for sociological understandings of neighborhood effects and for policy dilemmas.
Keywords: geography of poverty, suburbs, affordable housing, neighborhood effects, mixed methods
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