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Working Papers

Polarization and Public Housing in the United States

Working paper #308
William H. Carter, Michael H. Schill and Susan M. Wachter

• This article examines the effect of public housing on neighborhood property rates in central cities. The authors construct a longitudinal database (1950-1990) for four large cities—Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, and Philadelphia—and use econometric methods to analyze it. In particular, they examine the relationship between the location of public housing and changes in neighborhood poverty rates.
• The authors find that in each city, one or more of the variables relating to the existence of public housing is significantly related to increases in neighborhood poverty rates in succeeding decades. The study suggests that public interventions in the housing market, ostensibly designed to help poor people and their communities, may ultimately have the opposite effect.

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