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(Updated May 2014)

Are the sales prices of single-family homes made higher or lower when low-income housing is nearby? Most studies indicate that affordable housing has no long term negative impact on surrounding home values. In fact, some research indicates the opposite! However, local communities continue to believe the myth, raising a cry of "Not in my Backyard!" The following articles and studies examine the effects of low-income, public, and subsidized housing on the values of surrounding properties, the challenge of NIMBY, and some possible resources people can use to educate community groups and local governments. (D. Shumaker, Senior Library Information Specialist)

The New Face of Housing Opportunity

Source: NAR Housing Opportunity Program, (NAR—Government Affairs).

Impacts of Low-Income Housing on Neighboring Properties

Here comes the Neighborhood, (New York Times, Oct. 19, 2013). — Low-income housing’s impact in Mount Laurel, NJ.

Community Impact: The Effects of Assisted Rental Housing in Delaware, (Shelter for All, Oct. 2012). — The central findings of the report are that the location of assisted multifamily rental housing is typically not associated with any subsequent changes in the values of neighboring properties.

Fear of Affordable Housing: Perception vs. Reality, (Shelterforce, Summer 2012). — A study by Tufts University examines if any of the fears expressed for specific developments came to pass once they were built. Housing prices show no impact.

Affordable housing pays off for city, (Crain's New York, June 23, 2010). — Study finds that lower rents mean more money for residents to spend on everything from health care to groceries, boosting local business and property values; federal tax credits seen playing critical role. A link to a PDF brief on the study can be found here.

How Does Affordable Housing Affect Surrounding Property Values?, (ASU Stardust Center, 2008). — This research synthesis is based on a review and analysis of 21 recent studies measuring the impact of various forms of affordable housing on property values.

Spillovers and Subsidized Housing: The Impact of Subsidized Rental Housing on Neighborhoods, (Harvard University—Joint Center for Housing Studies, Mar. 2007). — Evidence suggests that the neighborhood impacts of subsidized, rental housing will differ depending on where it is built, the scale of the development, the characteristics of its tenants, and the nature of ownership and management. This paper concludes with lessons for policymakers about the types of subsidized rental housing investments most likely to generate positive spillovers to the surrounding community. [PDF document]

Does Federally Subsidized Rental Housing Depress Neighborhood Property Values?, (NYU, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 05-04, Mar. 2005). — The paper finds that federally subsidized developments have not typically led to reductions in property values and have in fact led to increases in many cases. Impacts are highly sensitive to scale, though patterns vary across programs. [PDF document]

Documents & Websites on Affordable Housing & the Relationship to Property Values, (California Dept. of Housing & Community Development, Dec. 2003). — A good source for further studies back to the mid-1990s.

Opposition to Public Ho​using (NIMBYism)

2015 Advocate’s Guide, (National Low Income Housing Coalition, 2015). — Provides advocates, policymakers, students and others with information on the most relevant housing and housing-related programs and issues (including opposition to public housing).

Making Fair Housing Laws Work for Your Neighborhood, (HouseLogic.com, Mar. 22, 2010). — By ensuring that your neighborhood adheres to fair housing standards, you can build a stronger, more vibrant community and protect property values.

NIMBY Notebook: Habitat for Hypocrisy, (Mother Jones, July 2007). — Housing advocates say Marin County's Bill Duane exemplifies a vexing irony: People support affordable housing with their labor, money, and votes—just so long as it's nowhere near them.

Overcoming Opposition to Multifamily Rental Housing, (National Multi Housing Council, Jan. 2007). — [PDF document]

Community Acceptance of Affordable Housing: Report to the National Association of REALTORS®, (NAR—National Center for Real Estate Research, June 2004). — [PDF document]


Housing Opportunity Program, (National Association of REALTORS®) — NAR's Housing Opportunity Program helps REALTORS® become leaders in promoting home ownership at local, state and national levels.

HUD User (U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development) — Numerous reports, articles, data sets, and other information on affordable housing from HUD's research department.

KnowledgePlex — Founded by several research institutions, KnowledgePlex is designed to support the efforts of a wide variety of groups involved or interested in the fields of affordable housing and community development.

National Low Income Housing Coalition — Includes numerous studies and reports on the state of affordable housing in the U.S., including the monthly NIMBY Report.

National Housing Conference — A national nonprofit affordable housing advocacy organization, featuring an Affordable Housing Clearinghouse, affordable housing publications and studies, and more.

eBooks & Other Resources

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Information Services. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Information Services at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

The Effects of Subsidized Housing on Property Values: A Survey of Research, (California Department of Housing & Community Development, 1988). HD 1387 C12e

Growth Management and Affordable Housing: Do They Conflict?, (Brookings Institution Press, 2004). HT166 G74

Impacts of Social Housing: Final Report, (Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation, Jan. 1994). HD 1387 C16

Low-Income Homeownership: Examining the Unexamined Goal, (Brookings Institution Press, 2002). HD 7287 L68

Why Not in My Backyard? Neighborhood Impacts of Deconcentrating Assisted Housing, (Rutgers University - Center for Urban Policy Research, 2003). HD 7293 W52w

Why Not in Our Community? Removing barriers to affordable housing, (HUD, 2005). HD7293 Un3wn

Field Guides & More

These field guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Housing Trust Funds

Field Guide to Inclusionary Zoning

Field Guide to Low-Income Housing Tax Credits

Field Guide to Social Benefits of Homeownership

Information Services Blog

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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.