The locational patterns and socioeconomic effects of the new markets tax credit and low income housing tax credit in distressed metropolitan census tracts
Henderson, Michael Joseph
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This dissertation investigates the role of two federal place-based programs, the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) and Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), as tools for revitalizing distressed communities. The first empirical chapter organizes low-income, high-poverty metropolitan census tracts into a typology based on their demographic, class status, built environment, and location characteristics in 2000. Principal components analysis uncovered three prominent neighborhood dimensions: class status, urbanization, and black socioeconomic isolation. These dimensions were entered into a cluster analysis, which identified ten distinct types of poor metropolitan neighborhoods. NMTC investment, LIHTC investment, and socioeconomic ascent were highly correlated across neighborhood types. This finding supports an assumption made in previous studies that developers, who play an important role in determining where subsidized projects are located, are motivated to seek out areas primed to undergo socioeconomic ascent. The neighborhood dimension describing the degree of urbanization was only baseline variable consistently related to both sources of place-based investment and future socioeconomic ascent, suggesting that developer preferences are informed by observable urbanization-related factors. These findings were then applied to the development of a model for estimating the effects of place-based investment on a neighborhood’s socioeconomic trajectory. I use a variation of propensity score matching allowing for multiple treatment conditions to compare 2000 to 2010 changes in income, poverty, unemployment, and home values between census tracts that received different combinations of investment through (a) both NMTC and LIHTC, (b) NMTC alone, (c) LIHTC alone, and (d) neither program. Findings revealed that the addition of NMTC had a positive impact on socioeconomic trajectories, while adding LIHTC-subsidized housing into a census tract could have a positive, negligible, or negative impact, depending on the comparison condition. Overall, this dissertation contributes to a better understanding of why certain types of poor places may be more likely to benefit from these types of market-driven place-based initiatives than others, and introduces a more integrated and nuanced approach for evaluating programs that operate within shared geographic space to address different facets of neighborhood poverty.