“Design: Affordable housing that is attractively designed and blends with the surrounding neighborhood may be more likely to have no effect or even a positive effect on nearby property values. An attractive design also may be helpful in allaying community concerns about the aesthetics of a proposed development.
Management: Not surprisingly, poorly maintained housing – whether privately owned or subsidized – has not been shown to depress nearby property values. Affordable housing that is well-managed and well-maintained is more likely to have a neutral or even positive effect on surrounding properties.
Revitalization: Rehabilitation of distressed properties for affordable housing has proven beneficial to neighboring home values. Neighbors are likely to view quality, affordable housing as preferable to vacant lots or dilapidated buildings.
Strong Neighborhoods: As long as it is not overly concentrated, locating affordable housing developments in strong neighborhoods with high home values and low poverty rates is unlikely to have adverse effects on nearby property values. These findings provide support for the emerging trend toward mixed-income housing and communities.
Concentration: Research suggests that distressed areas may benefit from new affordable housing developments that are large enough to overcome surrounding blight. In other neighborhoods, large concentrations of affordable units are best avoided in favor of more moderately sized developments that may limit the negative effects associated with concentrations of poverty. “
This myth assigns more weight to impact of affordable housing on property value; in reality, housing affordability is much less significant than other variables that influence property values. These factors include physical characteristics such as the color and/or design of the houses, and/or renovations made to homes that are uncharacteristic for the neighborhood; environmental characteristics such as the presence of power lines, highways, billboards, and/or excessive pollution; and other criteria, such as proximity to activity centers and open space.
Finally, like the other myths in this series, this myth is founded upon (and therefore, often used as a proxy) for several negative stereotypes of the individuals who live in affordable housing: that these individuals are low-income and/or not working, and/or are Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), which was explored and unpacked in the Building Bridges blog linked here.
Property values matter. They can indicate positive trends for a county, city, or even simply a neighborhood; attracting residents and business investment, as well as reflecting access to quality schools, jobs, parks, and other amenities; funding the services necessary to support a thriving populace; influencing the amount of equity available for homeowners; and finally, contributing to the overall strength of a given community.
It is important to note that when property values in a neighborhood increase rapidly, this can result in lower-income individuals and families being excluded from a neighborhood. Evidence suggests that ensuring the preservation and expansion of more affordable options in gentrifying areas will support families in need and not be a drag on these rising property values.
According to a research completed by Appalachian State University on the public opinion of affordable housing and NIMBYism, the negative perception of affordable housing is often more powerful than the research that disproves it; however, once affordable housing is constructed in a neighborhood, the negative perceptions of affordable housing actually decrease. As the saying goes, seeing is believing. The challenge is for communities, like Charlotte-Mecklenburg, is to produce more examples for residents to see.
Stay tuned for future posts covering common housing and homelessness-related misconceptions and myths. To learn more about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Housing & Homelessness Strategy, please visit: www.charmeckhousingstrategy.com
Courtney LaCaria coordinates posts on the Building Bridges Blog. Courtney is the Housing & Homelessness Research Coordinator for Mecklenburg County Community Support Services. Courtney’s job is to connect data on housing instability, homelessness and affordable housing with stakeholders in the community so that they can use it to drive policy-making, funding allocation and programmatic change.