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Have Distressed Neighborhoods Recovered? Evidence from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Jenny Schuetz, Jonathan Spader, and Alvaro Cortes


June 12, 2015
During the 2007-2009 housing crisis, concentrations of foreclosed and vacant properties created severe blight in many cities and neighborhoods. The federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was established to help mitigate distress in hard-hit areas by funding the rehabilitation or demolition of troubled properties. This paper analyzes housing market changes in areas that received investments during the second round of NSP funding, focusing on seven large urban counties. Grantees used NSP to invest in census tracts with high rates of distressed and vacancy properties, and tracts that had previously received other housing subsidies. The median NSP tract received quite sparse investment, relative to the overall housing stock and the initial levels of distress. Analysis of housing market outcomes indicates the recovery has been uneven across counties and neighborhoods. In a few counties, there is some evidence that NSP2 activity is correlated with improved housing outcomes.
North America