Last week, just before I came down with this horrible illness, I wrote this piece for Next City about the Mount Laurel Doctrine, a series of court decisions that protect and enhance affordable housing in New Jersey, and Chris Christie’s hatred of the law.
At the end of the piece I discuss a study that shows the benefits of these laws for those who were able to find affordable housing in the suburbs, which allowed many to escape the perennially troubled streets of Camden.
A 2009-2010 study of the Ethel Lawrence Homes, by Princeton University Professor Douglas Massey, showed “no detectable effects of the project’s opening on any outcome… Trends in home values, crime rates and taxes were the same in Mount Laurel as in similar townships nearby.”
But the real story is the effect the affordable housing development had on its residents. By comparing those who applied but hadn’t secured a housing unit to those who did, the study found the first group suffered significantly less violence and what are delicately termed “negative life events.” Employment rates were higher for those who lived in the Ethel Lawrence homes, as were incomes. Their children enjoyed “significant indirect effects through hours studied, school quality and school disorder, which on net improved grades.”
A commenter on the piece decided to selectively ignore the first paragraph quoted above and wrote this.
yeah but did anyone look into the increase in crime in mount laurel because of the Ethel Homes? or the fact that now there is gang problems in the middle schools between the Willow Turn posse and the Ethel Homes Posse? they were going to split up the schools to break up them coming together in the middle school….ask the retired folks across the street if they are effected by “negative life events” because of the Ethel homes??
Okay. Jeeze. First, Willow Turn Posse 4 life. Second, the Princeton University researchers I mentioned had this to say about the supposed point being made above.
To assess the effect of ELH on the township itself, we undertook a multiple time series study that compared trends in home values, tax burdens and crime rates in Mount Laurel before and after 2001, with trends in a matched set of nearby townships before and after the same date. Performing a statistical analysis of “differences in differences” before and after the opening of ELH, we found no detectable effects of the project’s opening on any outcome. Trends in home values, crime rates and taxes were the same in Mount Laurel as in similar townships nearby.
Even in neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the project, we found no effect of ELH on crime, property values or taxes. Indeed, in a survey we conducted among neighbors, one-third didn’t know affordable housing even existed in the neighborhood, and among those who did know, only 40% could successfully name the project.