Crowd out effects of place-based subsidized rental housing: New evidence from the LIHTC program
Since its inception in 1987, the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program has ballooned into the largest ever source of subsidized construction of low-income housing in the United States, accounting for one-third of all recent multi-family rental construction. This paper examines the crowd out effects of this increasingly important source of low-moderate income housing. To do so, we analyze the impact of LIHTC construction at three different levels of geography, MSA, county, and 10-mile radius circles. This allows us to employ increasingly extensive geographic fixed effects that help to difference away unobserved factors. Political variables are also used as instruments to further facilitate identification. In all of our models, IV estimates yield substantially greater crowd out than OLS, confirming the endogenous attraction of LIHTC development to areas ripe for new construction. Our most robust IV estimates indicate that nearly 100% of LIHTC development is offset by a reduction in the number of newly built unsubsidized rental units, although the confidence band around this point estimate allows for less dramatic assessments. Additional estimates suggest that LIHTC development has a much more moderate impact on construction of owner-occupied housing, but these estimates are imprecise. Overall, while LIHTC development may well affect the location of low-moderate income rental housing opportunities, our estimates suggest that the impact of the program on the number of newly developed rental housing units appears to be small.
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