Effects of Low-Income Housing on Property Values

Quick Takeaways

  • The Urban Institute recently released an affordable housing case study from Alexandria, Virginia. The results indicate that affordable housing has a positive if not zero effect on property values.
  • “Affordable housing units in above-median-income census tracts are associated with a 0.06 percent increase in property values, and affordable housing units in below-median-income tracts are associated with a 0.17 percent increase in nearby property values.”
  • “Affordable housing units in Alexandria are associated with an increase in property values of 0.09 percent within 1/16 of a mile [one city block] of a development, on average” and “no effect on properties between 1/16 of a mile and 3/16 of a mile.”

Source: How Affordable Housing Makes Communities Wealthier (California YIMBY, May 18, 2022)

The National Association of REALTORS® has released the Housing Pulse Survey since 2003. The most recent iteration was released in 2017. You can find the executive summaries on the linked page. Key findings include that 44% of Americans “categorize the lack of available housing that is affordable as a very big or fairly big problem.”

There are many misconceptions about affordable housing, the main one being that they decrease property values. A recent study in Alexandria, Virginia has proven that affordable housing actually increases or has zero effect on property value. Every city faces its own affordable housing challenges, and it is no surprise that California’s real estate market and population make it rife for disagreement on the topic.

The term “NIMBY” stands for “Not in My Backyard” and refers to a person or group of people who do not want affordable housing (or sometimes shelters, treatment centers, even parks or trails” in their backyard, often citing property value, safety, sometimes even aesthetics. “YIMBY” has been offered as a counter term for people who say “Yes” to these additions to the neighborhood.

See References for more information.

Latest on this topic