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The Impact of Housing on Community: A Review of Scholarly Theories and Empirical Research
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Published March 2006
Author Alexander von Hoffman, Eric S. Belsky, Kwan Lee
Source Joint Center for Housing Studies, Harvard University
URL Click here to download the full document
PDF: 111 pages, 479 kbytes

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Scholars have achieved much in their quest to understand the ways that housing markets and urban communities influence each other. Over eighty years of research has produced increasingly sophisticated models of neighborhood change, innovative efforts to understand the reasons why communities typically are segregated by race and income, and the causes and effects of concentrated poverty. This research has at various times influenced the nation's public policies, helping to shape varied programs and regulations aimed at improving economic efficiency, correcting market failures, ensuring fairness, and promoting equity. This paper reviews the ways in which housing markets shape initial neighborhood conditions and drive changes in these conditions over time. In addition, it examines the impacts of the operation of housing markets on communities and individuals. Lastly, it considers the public policy responses to results of the operations of the housing market. This summary is organized around five important impacts of housing markets on community character: 1) residential segregation by race and income; 2) neighborhood change leading especially to urban decline and distressed neighborhoods; 3) uneven quality of public services across jurisdictions; 4) uneven access to opportunities by community; and 5) socioeconomic distress associated with distressed neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.

   
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