Blogging Bayport Alameda

May 11, 2016

Benefits of building

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:01 am

Here’s an interesting City Lab post referencing a report tracking the results of building affordable housing.

This was a good takeaway given the comments that have been made here regarding crime and affordable housing:

The one other neighborhood characteristic economists tracked was crime. In poor neighborhoods, crime rates dropped after development of affordable housing; in richer ones, they didn’t really change.

Unsurprisingly, “rich” households were most reluctant to live near affordable housing but:

If higher-income households chose to live in poor neighborhoods, they were actually willing to pay a larger percentage of their housing cost to live near the newly built affordable buildings—in both high- and low-minority areas. (Minority homebuyers, in particular, were willing to dish out more to live in high-minority areas compared to whites.)

And the general difference between building the affordable housing in a higher income area as opposed to a lower income area:

For poor, mostly white neighborhoods, that dollar value is $116 million; for poor, high-minority neighborhoods that tend to be denser, this number goes up to $211 million. “There’s this big, positive, place-based effect of [affordable housing on] revitalizing these poor areas.” Diamond says. “These benefits really are accruing to the residents in those neighborhoods.”

On the flip side, high-income neighborhoods saw a loss of $12 million as a result of falling home prices. But it’s important to evaluate that number in the context of the significant economic and health benefits for low-income tenants living in these areas, the authors point out. Pointing to economic-mobility research by economist Raj Chetty, the authors estimate that building affordable housing in posher neighborhoods would award its typically low-income tenants around $26.7 million, which “more than offsets the losses to local residents in these high income areas ($12.1 million).”

Naturally though the falling home prices thing is largely a reaction to the perception about the types of residents affordable housing developments will bring.



  1. Alameda has a ton of fantastic affordable housing complexes. You drive by them every day and might not have any clue that they are actually public housing. We have an amazing housing authority that has done a great job working with their resources to create and maintain permanent affordable housing that ensures some people, (tho woefully not all who are in need), have safe and secure housing. The more resources we are able to give the more good work we will be able to do to shrink the income inequality that plagues this region.

    While it would be a utopian notion that every living person would be able to work hard and long enough to provide for themselves, this is not a reasonable expectation of any society, especially not one in which we have stifled housing growth for decades. As long as jobs grow and housing remains stagnant we are going to have people in desperate need of housing. This problem will only get worse.

    I would love to see this region as a whole stop denying the fact that the Bay Area is a metropolis and find multiple ways to increase mass transporation, increase dense housing by giving property owners incentives to increase density on their properties (through remodel or complete redevelopment), and offer tax incentives to move jobs to less employed areas of our state.

    Comment by Angela — May 11, 2016 @ 1:34 pm

    • I agree with everything you wrote except maybe this:

      offer tax incentives to move jobs to less employed areas of our state

      While in theory we can all scratch our heads as to why businesses don’t simply move to Stockton or Tracy to maximize on the lower cost of housing for their employees, the issue is some industries would not be a good fit for certain regions. Whereas logistics and warehouse jobs may make an easier transfer to Stockton tech jobs have a much more harder transfer because they cluster around one another. We should be encouraging the economic health and growth of the region as a whole and recognize that we need to ensure that all workers can afford to live in the area by addressing the supply shortfall.

      Comment by Lauren Do — May 11, 2016 @ 2:05 pm

      • I’m not saying all jobs should be moved, not by any stretch, but if a little work were done to make some of our other university based cities more dynamic we might be able to spread some of this economic engine around the state. There are going to be some companies who will want to move to more affordable locales and some of them are already looking out of state. It’s better for California to keep those jobs in-state.

        We have a better chance of doing that with tax incentives and projects that help city governments create the kinds of environments that do encourage tech development. Tax incentives worked to bring Twitter to San Francisco, which wasn’t all that hard to do, but if California cities want to attract better employers then perhaps some government incentives would help.

        To that end, California has something unique in its character, in that we encourage people to be themselves. Not so in some other parts of the country. There are many places where it’s too important which church you attend, which clubs you join or what your last name is. There are many people who would leap at the chance to stay in California, get paid a decent wage and inhabit reasonably priced housing, just so that they could maintain that level of personal freedom, not to mention to stay close with friends and family in the coastal cities.

        Comment by Angela — May 11, 2016 @ 8:16 pm

  2. Also, there is that whole pesky environment/climate change thing someone talked about once.

    Comment by BMac — May 11, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

    • My favorite is when the anti-tax, anti-ABAG, small government people, turn around and want the government to be able to dictate who can live where,

      “The City Council should stop letting new people move here!”

      Comment by brock — May 11, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

      • Who has said that? I doubt anyone has, and if it has been said it hasn’t gone past the bar-room tinhorn level. That sentiment has never been any part of serious discussion.

        Comment by dave — May 12, 2016 @ 5:20 am

        • Dave, your mistake is thinking I’m above the bar-room tinhorn crowd.

          Comment by brock — May 12, 2016 @ 9:47 am

  3. The only other problem with moving jobs to the less employed areas of the state is a lot of that land is used to produce food and as we move the population from the cities to the suburbs there is less land for agriculture and ranching activities. As we move out…spread out we become more like LA and eventually it is just more of everything spread out as far as you can go.

    Comment by joelsf — May 11, 2016 @ 3:09 pm

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