Beyond anecdotal evidence: Do subsidized housing developments increase neighborhood crime?

Ayoung Woo, Kenneth Joh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


While planners and policymakers have advocated the need for project-based subsidized housing, they often face the challenge of strong community opposition due to the negative perceptions of subsidized housing and subsidized households, and the fear that these developments and residents would bring increased crime. This paper aims to extend beyond anecdotal evidence by examining the impact of a popular U.S. affordable housing program, the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, on neighborhood crime rates. We estimate the levels and trends in neighborhood crime before and after LIHTC developments, based on crime incidents data from 2000 to 2009 in Austin, Texas, using the Adjusted Interrupted Time Series-Difference in Differences (AITS-DID) approach to clarify the causal direction of impacts of LIHTC developments. Results show that LIHTC subsidized housing tended to be developed in neighborhoods where crime was already prevalent, and contrary to popular perception, LIHTC developments have a mitigating impact on neighborhood crime. These results suggest that LIHTC developments may be an effective tool for revitalizing distressed neighborhoods by ameliorating the "broken windows" problem and reducing neighborhood crime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-96
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Geography
StatePublished - 2015 Oct 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Causal direction
  • Low-income housing tax credit
  • Neighborhood crime
  • Subsidized housing


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