Monday, November 14, 2011

Correlation between housing vouchers and crime revisited

by Sarah Jawaid, National Housing Conference

Hanna Rosin's infamous August 2008 Atlantic Monthly article “American Murder Mystery” fueled much debate over the years by exploring claims that housing vouchers increased neighborhood crime rates. HUD sponsored a study earlier this year finding no such correlation between increased crimes and housing vouchers. Just last week, the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy released a study that instead finds voucher holders may move into neighborhoods where crime is growing. The paper was featured in an article in The Atlantic Cities. Read the full paper here and accompanying fact sheet here. Read NHC’s Open House blog post on old stereotypes used to perpetuate the controversy around housing vouchers’ linkage to crime.

Key Findings of the Furman Center study (taken from fact sheet linked above):
  • “Neighborhoods with higher crime rates house more voucher holders on average, but the presence of voucher holders does not lead to increases in crime.
  • The positive association between voucher use and crime disappears after researchers control for preexisting trends in crime and neighborhood conditions.
  • There is some evidence of a reverse causal relationship between rising crime rates and the presence of voucher holders: rising crime rates seem to invite an increase in voucher holders in a neighborhood, perhaps because of reduced demand in communities with increasing crime rates
  • These findings challenge the notion that voucher recipients cause rising crime, suggesting instead that voucher holders are more likely to settle in areas with higher pre‐existing crime rates.”

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