Does municipally sponsored affordable housing impact crime in its surrounding neighborhood?

Municipally subsidized housing does not increase crime.

Subsidized housing tends to be built where crime is higher to begin with. However, municipally subsidized housing does not actually increase crime. This is based on empirical research on the biggest sources of government funded housing - the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program and Section 8 vouchers.

Studies that have compared local crime rates before and after LIHTC housing is built, or before and after a large number of Section 8 voucher recipients move in, have generally found either no change in local crime, or maybe even a small reduction.  

A few papers have tried to approximate the outcome of a randomized trial by comparing how crime evolves in places where housing was located to very similar places without housing.  One study found that LIHTC housing reduced crime relative to what would have occurred had the housing not been built – especially in poor areas. Another found that when LIHTC housing is placed in particularly disadvantaged areas, the county’s violent crime rate falls.

Researchers attribute this to subsidized housing usually replacing a dilapidated building or a vacant lot, and, in practice, not leading to large increases in concentrated poverty. And, while people who use Section 8 have low incomes, people with criminal records are usually ineligible for this program.

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