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Housing strategies to strengthen communities

Housing strategies can improve neighborhood racial and economic integration, reduce resident displacement, and improve unsafe housing conditions.

Supportive, affordable communities strengthen family stability, foster strong social networks, and generate access to opportunity, contributing to positive mobility outcomes at every life stage.

How does housing impact neighborhoods?

Economically and racially integrated neighborhoods produce better community outcomes. 1

Neighborhoods with high levels of concentrated poverty see higher rates of crime, unplanned pregnancy, male joblessness, and high school dropouts.

Reducing neighborhood poverty rates creates better long-term outcomes for low-income children. 2 3

Lower-income children are more likely to experience upward economic mobility if they grow up in areas with less concentrated poverty, better schools, a large share of two-parent families, and lower crime rates. The earlier children move to a higher opportunity neighborhood, the stronger the positive effects.

Safe, high-quality housing improves community well-being. 4

Insufficient home insulation, the absence of hot water, pest infestation, mold, inadequate ventilation, and other environmental factors in homes are associated with greater incidences of infectious diseases, chronic illnesses, injuries, poor nutrition, mental disorders, and cognitive development issues.

The physical condition of neighborhoods affects community-wide outcomes. 5

Neighborhood blight is associated with crime and diminished economic activity and contributes to negative community employment, education, and health outcomes.

Categories of successful interventions

  • Affordable housing creation and preservation: Programs or policies that directly create new affordable housing units or establish conditions for more affordable housing to be constructed or preserved
  • Environmental remediation programs: Initiatives that remove pollution or contaminants from soil, water, or sediment
  • Home ownership programs: Programs that help lower-income renters become homeowners or help low-income homeowners remain in their homes

Evidence-based interventions

Intervention Type Category Evidence Level
Community land trusts Strategy
  • Affordable housing creation and preservation
Strong (second-highest tier)
Healthy home environment assessments Strategy
  • Housing quality programs
Proven (highest tier)
Housing rehabilitation loan and grant programs Strategy
  • Housing quality programs
Proven (highest tier)
Inclusionary zoning policies Policy
  • Affordable housing creation and preservation
Strong (second-highest tier)
Land banking Strategy
  • Affordable housing creation and preservation
  • Built environment improvements
Strong (second-highest tier)
Lead paint abatement programs Strategy
  • Housing quality programs
Proven (highest tier)
Legal support for tenants facing eviction Strategy
  • Eviction, displacement, and homelessness prevention
Strong (second-highest tier)
Mixed-use development Policy
  • Built environment improvements
Proven (highest tier)
Service-enriched housing Strategy
  • Service-enriched housing
Strong (second-highest tier)
Zoning regulations for land use policy Policy
  • Affordable housing creation and preservation
  • Built environment improvements
Proven (highest tier)
Footnotes
  1. Turner, Acs, Brown, Solari, and Fudge, "Boosting Upward Mobility: Metrics to Inform Local Action," Urban Institute 2020
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/102342/boosting-upward-mobility-metrics-to-inform-local-action_1.pdf
  2. Chyn, "Moved to Opportunity: The Long-Run Effect of Public Housing Demolition on Labor Market Outcomes of Children," University of Virginia 2016
    http://www.ericchyn.com/files/Chyn_Moved_to_Opportunity.pdf
  3. Chetty and Hendren, "The Impacts of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects and County-Level Estimates," Equality of Opportunity 2015
    http://www.equality-of-opportunity.org/images/nbhds_exec_summary.pdf
  4. Krieger and Higgins, "Housing and Health: Time Again for Public Health Action," American Journal of Public Health 2002
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447157/
  5. Blumenthal and McGinty, "Housing Policy Levers to Promote Economic Mobility," Urban Institute 2015
    https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/alfresco/publication-pdfs/2000428-Housing-Policy-Levers-to-Promote-Economic-Mobility.pdf