A number of studies have documented that contemporary affordable housing developments have no impact on nearby property values, and in some cases contribute to increased property values. Studies conducted have found that “proximity to nonprofit-developed subsidized housing actually enhances property values.” Studies of low-income family housing developments in suburban areas have even revealed that affordable housing and supportive housing can have a positive impact on surrounding property values. Numerous studies over time from around the country support the general notion that affordable housing has no negative impact on surrounding property values.
In most cases, people who need affordable housing are already members of the community. They are senior citizens living on fixed incomes and families working entry-level and low-wage jobs. They are social service workers, firemen, preschool teachers, travel agents, food service workers, clergy, medical assistants, and others who support our region. There is no evidence that affordable housing brings crime to a neighborhood. Whether a development will be an asset or a detriment to a community more often turns on basic management practices: careful screening, prudent security measures, and regular upkeep.
The largest subsidy for housing in the United States is the federal homeowner mortgage interest tax deduction which totaled $108 billion in FY 2003. This is more than three-and-half times the entire budget for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and larger than the budgets of every state except California. And it’s high-income families who benefit – approximately 50% of these benefits went to the top 11% of all U.S. taxpayers. Home ownership, therefore, is not the embodiment of self-sufficiency and independence from public subsidy as the rhetoric purports. The reason units at a redeveloped or newly constructed “affordable housing” building can be offered at below-market rents or purchase prices is that the up-front acquisition and development costs of financing would be reduced by federal tax credits and grants. In other words, the day-to-day operating costs and the rental income would not be subsidized by the municipality.
Affordable housing must comply with the same building restrictions and design standards as market-rate housing. Because it is often funded in part with public money, sometimes it needs to comply with additional restrictions and higher standards than market-rate housing. Affordable housing is not affordable because it’s built with “sub-quality” materials; it is affordable in the sense that it is less costly to live in because it may be supported by additional public and private funds which lowered the development cost, hence the sales price or rental rates are lower then “market” to end user.
Studies show that affordable housing residents own fewer cars and drive less often than those in the surrounding neighborhood.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, rental apartments have fewer children per unit on average than owner-occupied, single-family housing; rental apartments contain a lower percent of units with one or more school aged children; and rental units have a lower average number of motor vehicles per unit. Although not all multi-family rental units are affordable, they make up the bulk of affordable housing.
Nationwide, the effective tax rate (property tax paid relative to the market value) for multi-family complexes is significantly higher than single family homes. Thus, multi-family developments pay their “fair share” in local property taxes. Furthermore, as stated above, multi-family housing actually produces less burden on the local tax system in terms of new services generated than single family homes.