GWIPP Research: Housing Policy

Title: Using Market Analysis of Home Values to Measure the Economic and Fiscal Effects of Multi-Use Trails

Researcher(s): Garry Young, Andrea Sarzynski, Joe Cordes, Hal Wolman, and Jeremy Larrieu

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Start Date: January 2010

Status: Current

Category: Housing Policy

Summary: Multi-use trails encourage and facilitate physical activity among all age groups. Their separation from motorized traffic makes them especially attractive for families with children.  One concrete way to evaluate the economic benefit of trails to a community is to measure their impact on housing values. Does the presence of a trail affect housing prices? Does ease of access to a trail affect housing prices? In this proposed study we will estimate the economic impact of trail presence and access on housing values in Montgomery County, Maryland.  In addition, the study will use its findings to calculate the impact of property tax revenues produced by the trails and compare those values with the construction and maintenance costs of the trails borne by the Montgomery County government.

Title:  The Determinants of Residential Employment: A Literature Review

Funding:  District of Columbia Office of Revenue Analysis

Researcher(s): Hal Wolman, Garry Young, Alice Levy, Matt Darst

Start Date: June 2008

Status: Completed 

Category: Social Policy, Housing Policy

Summary: A review of existing theory and research findings on the determinants of employment for individuals and the probability of employment for individuals with specific characteristics.  The purpose of the literature review is to inform the development of a proposal to study the determinants of employment for residents of Washington, DC.


Working Paper 033 - Literature Review on the Determinants of Residential Employment. Alice Levy, Robert Darst, Hal Wolman, and Garry Young, October 2008.

Title: School Finance Referenda and Housing Values

Funding: National Center for Real Estate Research

Start Date: January 2007

Status: Current


Summary: Housing values are influenced by a variety of factors. There is substantial and well-established literature that suggests that housing and property values are a function of the physical characteristics of the house and the land on which it sits, proximity to amenities and disamenities, the level and quality of local government services provided, and the level of property taxes collected to pay for these services. Within the context of government service provision and financing, local school quality and cost play a particularly important role in affecting house prices.

A critical component to educational finance in the United States is the requirement that school-related financial arrangements must receive direct voter approval in most school districts. The referendum requirement applies most commonly to the sale of bonds for capital improvements, but extends well beyond bond issues. The results of school referenda have major consequences for housing values in school districts, since both taxes and school quality are substantially capitalized into property values. Yet, we know little about the outcomes and outcome trends of school finance referenda and we have little systematic evidence about the relationship between these referenda outcomes and housing values. The purpose of this project is to gather data on school finance referenda across the states going back to 1995 and then study the relationship between referenda outcomes and housing values.

Title: Does the Community Reinvestment Act Encourage Integration of Urban Communities? Mortgage Lending, Homeownership and Black Wealth Accumulation in Metropolitan America
Researcher(s): Samantha Friedman (Dept. of Sociology, GWU) & Gregory D. Squires (Dept. of Sociology, GWU)
Funding: The Ford Foundation
Start Date:
Status: Completed

This paper, which has been revised and resubmitted to Social Problems, examines the extent to which the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) has helped racial minorities purchase homes in predominantly white neighborhoods from which they have traditionally been excluded. Using 2000 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act reports (HMDA) and 2000 decennial census data, we find that in metropolitan areas where a relatively high proportion of loans are made by institutions covered by the CRA, blacks and Latinos are more likely to purchase homes in predominantly white neighborhoods than in areas where relatively fewer loans are made by such lenders. This finding holds after controlling for a range of socioeconomic characteristics.


Working Paper 014 - Does the Community Reinvestment Act Help Minorities Access Traditionally Inaccessible Neighborhoods?, Samantha Friedman and Gregory D. Squires, July 2004.

Friedman, Samantha and Squires, Gregory, "Does the Community Reinvestment Act Help Minorities Access Traditionally Inaccessible Neighborhoods?" Social Problems, May 2005, Vol. 52, Issue 2, pp. 209–231.