Week 7: Making Housing in Greater Boston Work for Everyone

Friday, June 5, 3:30 pm

 

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Developing a Regional Housing Submarket Typology for Greater Boston
Presenter: Seleeke Flingai, MAPC

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Co-authors:

Seleeke Flingai (Metropolitan Area Planning Council)
Taylor Perez (Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District)
Jessie Partridge Guerrero (Metropolitan Area Planning Council)
Timothy G. Reardon (Metropolitan Area Planning Council)

Urban and regional planners, policymakers, housing and community development advocates, and others depend on data and community knowledge to plan and implement development strategies, revitalization programs, and other neighborhood-centric policies and interventions. However, neighborhoods selected for such efforts may be targeted in isolation or alongside neighboring communities under the assumption that spatially clustered neighborhoods may experience parallel, intended policy effects. In reality, similar neighborhoods, sharing common challenges and opportunities, may exist throughout the region in a spatially heterogeneous manner, while nearby neighborhoods may actually have vastly different characteristics that could result in unintended policy impacts.

One approach to categorizing neighborhoods that could account for these issues is housing submarket segmentation. Housing submarkets are distinct market segments based on similarities in housing market characteristics, demographics, housing attributes, and more. An analysis of housing submarkets in our region will be valuable in several ways. A submarket framework can better facilitate the development of policy responses and community development strategies that are tailored to specific submarkets facing unique challenges and opportunities. Additionally, such an analysis can give rise to targeted research that is more relevant to a given submarket or set of submarkets, such as mapping neighborhoods vulnerable to residential displacement.

In the present study, MAPC has developed a regional housing submarket typology for Greater Boston. To accomplish this goal, we produced a novel dataset incorporating building stock, housing market, and neighborhood characteristics from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Warren Group (transaction and mortgage data), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. We then used latent profile analysis, a statistical classification technique, to cluster census tracts throughout the region into housing submarket types. We identify seven housing submarkets that are distinct enough from one another to signify significant differences in neighborhood-level housing market characteristics. Our findings provide a valuable tool that planners, policymakers, researchers, and others can use to develop appropriate, targeted programs, policies, and research efforts for the range of neighborhood types that may exist within a given municipality or across the region.

TODEX: A Transit-Oriented Development Explorer
Presenter: Tom Hopper, Massachusetts Housing Partnership

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Co-authors:

Lucas Munson, Calandra Clark

MHP's Center for Housing Data has developed a new methodology for estimating the number of homes at the parcel/lot level that employs multiple data sets in order to create a consistent, accurate, and comparable metric that can be used to compare housing patterns across municipal borders. The resulting product of this methodology is the Transit-Oriented Development Explorer (TODEX). TODEX is an interactive web tool that allows users to click on any MBTA train station and view its parcel-level density. In addition, the tool allows users to download the maps and the underlying data, with the intent to help spur more conversations around specific stations of interest.

Our reasons for creating this dataset and website are twofold. Massachusetts is simultaneously experiencing transit and housing crises. We have an acute housing shortage, and this has created an incredibly expensive and competitive housing market that provides few opportunities and many obstacles for low- and moderate-income households. Combined with a need for improvements and investments in transit infrastructure and service, as well as some of the worst traffic in the country, these compounding issues threaten the viability of the region and the well-being of residents. Greater Boston needs a comprehensive vision that treats housing and transit issues in concert. Transit-oriented development strategies are at the nexus of these two critical public policy problems.

The research is evolving continuously, and we would love to hear people's feedback on the product itself and its policy implications.

Community Housing Data Tool: Sharing Data through a Community-Driven Approach
Presenter: Soojin Conover, Vital Village Network at Boston Medical Center

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Co-authors:

Allison Bovell-Ammon, Director of Policy Strategy, Children’s HealthWatch
Darris Jordan, Breathe Easy at Home Coordinator, Boston Public Health Commission
JoHanna Flacks, Legal Director, Medical-Legal Partnership Boston
Tomiqua Williams, Community Resident Partner
Yusuf Ali, Network Coordinator, Vital Village Network at Boston Medical Center

The Community Housing Data Tool by Vital Village Network was developed to provide information and resources to individuals, families, and organizations interested in learning more about the state of housing in Boston communities. It was co-created with the Community Data Workgroup (CDW), a diverse team of individual residents and organizational community partners, who provides valuable direction in forming the framework and topics in the Data Tool. Building on guidance from the CDW, the Data Tool intends to make housing information and resources accessible to Boston families, with a focus on topics that residents identified as most relevant. In this talk, we will introduce the Data Tool and how the community has led the process of its development and ongoing plans for expansion. Emphasizing the relationship between health and housing, the tool shares data maps and resources about four categories of support systems: in-house quality and safety, community and external quality and safety, accessibility of affordable living options, and stability support. The tool presents a dynamic model for integrating equity within data sharing efforts that center the lived experience and voices of populations that have been relatively less highlighted in discussions on housing. The interactive tool ultimately aims to promote equitable and safe housing environments in all Boston neighborhoods.

The Politics & Practice of Non-Local Control in Urban Rental Markets
Presenter: Nicholas J. Henninger, Boston University

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Recent scholarship in urban politics analyzes the impacts of public housing, housing choice vouchers, and other public-sector initiatives to lessen concentrated poverty in formerly red-lined neighborhoods. However, within a context of welfare retrenchment, the median low-income renter is housed by a private landlord and receives no government subsidy. This may lend significant economic and political power to landlords operating in low-income majority-minority neighborhoods. 

Utilizing property ownership data from Boston, Detroit, and Milwaukee, this study finds that landlords owning in low-income neighborhoods are more likely to be non-local – residing over a mile from their property - than landlords in higher-income neighborhoods. Furthermore, non-local landlord status is significantly associated with tenant race and housing type. Stark economic and demographic disparities are shown between non-local landlords’ and their tenants' respective home communities, with landlord communities significantly whiter and higher-income. 

The study further analyzes the political activity of landlords in response to fair housing legislation at the municipal level. Regarding Boston’s Jim Brooks Community Stabilization Act (2017), it finds elevated rates of landlord donations to those councilors voting against the Act – especially from landlords outside of Boston. Altogether, this research finds that landlord-tenant disparities are a key aspect of distorted representation in modern cities. 

Moderator: Luc Schuster, Director, Boston Indicators at the Boston Foundation.