Blog Archives

Urban, Suburban, and Rural Contexts of School Districts and Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies: Rediscovering Equity in Education Policy and Urban Planning

This article revisits the debate about school reform and homeownership-based strategies for neighborhood revitalization. It is based on an analysis of school districts in New York State using data from the American Community Survey (ACS) and the New York State Education Department (NYSED). Findings indicate that the relationship between schools and housing values varies across urban, suburban, and rural school districts. It is recommended that education reformers and urban planners advocate for states and the federal government to assume a more central role in the promotion of educational equity and the subsequent stabilization of neighborhoods in older core cities.

Central city socio-economic characteristics and public participation strategies: A comparative analysis of the Niagara region’s municipalities in the U.S. and Canada, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy

Purpose – This article aims to examine the mechanisms used by municipalities to stimulate public participation and, in part, to argue that contrasts between the socio-economic make-up of central cities in the USA and Canada explain these divergent techniques. Design/methodology/approach – The article is based on a survey of planning departments measuring the types of public participation strategies used by local governments. Findings – The article’s findings indicate that Canadian municipalities adopt a broader range of public participation techniques related to: voluntarism and public engagement, neighborhood and strategic planning, and e-government. In contrast, the article’s findings indicate that US municipalities are more likely to promote public participation through mechanisms such as annual community meetings and referendums on public issues. Research limitations/implications – The conclusion of the article offers recommendations for expanding the scope of public participation and developing strategies that maximize citizen input in community development activities in both countries. Practical implications – The survey was conducted to identify the scope of public participation techniques used by local governments in the Niagara region. One limitation of this methodology is that it does not gauge the effectiveness of the participation techniques used by local governments or the intensity of public engagement. However, the results from this study provide future researchers with a mechanism for focusing future analysis. Originality/value – The findings can assist in identifying new directions for enhancing public participation in the USA and Canada.

Municipal property acquisition patterns in a shrinking city: Evidence for the persistence of an urban growth paradigm in Buffalo, NY

The purpose of this article is to examine municipal property acquisition patterns in shrinking cities. We use data from the City of Buffalo’s municipal
property auction records to analyze the spatial distribution of properties offered for sale in its annual tax foreclosure auction. In addition to these data, we examine demolition and building permit records. Our analysis suggests that cities like Buffalo follow strategies based on an urban growth paradigm when responding to abandonment. This paradigm operates under the assumption that growth is a constant and urban development is only limited by fiscal constraints, underdeveloped systems of urban governance, environmental degradation, and resistance by anti-growth coalitions. We recommend that planners in shrinking cities de-emphasize growthbased planning and focus on rightsizing strategies. These strategies are based on
the assumption that growth is not a constant. Consequently, urban revitalization is concentrated in a smaller urban footprint.

Building a better neighborhood housing partnership. Housing and Society

 Prior research has examined the role of intermediary organizations non-affordable housing development and community-based housing organization(CBHO) capacity building. This article built on this work by examining an applied research project aimed at assessing the feasibility of creating a neighborhood housing partnership (NHP) organization in Buffalo, New York. NHPs are
nonprofit umbrella organizations created through public-private partnerships.
They provide technical assistance, training, monitoring, and funding support to local CBHOs. This research was based on case study analysis. Selected NHP best practices in western New York and northeastern Ohio were described, and CBHO capacity in Buffalo was examined. Recommendations were discussed for 
reforms to Buffalo’s nonprofit housing sector shaped by institutional conditions in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. This analysis highlighted how local 
intermediaries need to be designed in response to these conditions, and offers insights into why NHP structures vary across the U.S.

Housing abandonment and demolition: Exploring the use of micro-level and multi-year models

Policies focusing on enforcing property code violations and the improvement of vacant properties are argued to be more efficacious than demolition policies to fight urban blight. This study applies parcel level data to a multi-year hybrid modeling structure. A fine-grained analysis is conducted on the dynamic patterns of abandonment and demolition for a unique period of four years before and after the City of Buffalo’s stepped-up demolition efforts. Results showed that proximity to vacant and abandoned properties, sustained over the years, had the greatest impact on the possibility of a property being abandoned. The second greatest positive impact on property abandonment was small lot front size. Results also showed that neighborhood vacancy density had the greatest negative impact on surrounding housing sales prices over the years. There was no significant impact of demolition on housing sales prices. These findings suggested that the City should aim to have more incentive programs that are tailored to control the number of vacant properties, rather than focusing primarily on demolition-oriented programs.

The Influence of Nonprofit Networks on Local Affordable Housing Funding: Findings from a National Survey of Local Public Administrators

This article examines public administrators’ perceptions of the effects of non- profit networks on local affordable housing decisions. It builds on a larger body of research concerning the affordable housing activities of community- based organizations (CBOs). This analysis is based on a national survey of public administrators responsible for affordable housing programs in U.S. cities with populations over 100,000. The survey included questions about: CBO performance, factors influencing CBO funding decisions, and local government structure. This article provides insights into decision-making surrounding CBO funding at the local level. These insights improve our understanding of the connection between public administrators’ perceptions, funding patterns, and interorganizational relations.

Neighborhood characteristics and the location of HUD subsidized housing in shrinking cities: An analysis to inform anchor-based urban revitalization strategies

This article focuses on the manner in which affordable housing fits into anchor-based strategies for urban revitalization. It involves quantitative analysis of the location of existing HUD-subsidized housing in relation to neighborhood characteristics. The goal of the article is twofold. First, we examine the degree to which neighborhood characteristics associated with neighborhoods of opportunity correlate with the location of HUD-subsidized housing in shrinking cities. Second, we make recommendations for more equitable approaches to anchor-based urban revitalization. Our analysis uses a unique database developed to measure neighborhood characteristics in shrinking US cities. Our findings suggest that the location of affordable housing is not correlated with proximity to institutional and neighborhood amenities, where anchor-based revitalization is targeted. As a result, we make recommendations to link future affordable housing siting to anchor-based strategies for inner-city revitalization.

Sandwiched between Patronage and Bureaucracy: The Plight of Citizen Participation in Community-based Housing Organisations in the US

This article examines how directors of community-based housing organisations (CBHOs) in the US define the role of citizen participation in their organisations. In particular, it describes how local political and administrative structures affect the scope of citizen participation in the governance and decision-making processes of CBHOs. This is an important topic since these organisations implement housing and community development programmes in urban neighbourhoods, and citizen participation has been considered important to the legitimacy of these efforts. The analysis is based on in-depth interviews with CBHO executive directors in Buffalo, New York. In particular, the executive directors of CBHOs that concentrate their efforts on the management, development and rehabilitation of affordable housing were interviewed. In addition to data from in-depth interviews, data from fieldnotes, the US census, IRS 990 forms and informal conversations with local government officials and representatives of intermediary organisations were used in the analysis. Existing theories concerning citizen participation and non-profit administration are elaborated upon and applied to CBHOs. The extent to which these organisations create opportunities for grassroots planning is considered and recommendations for expanding citizen participation are proposed.

Neighborhoods of Opportunity: Developing an Operational Definition for Planning and Policy Implementation

This article synthesizes existing literature to examine the emerging concept of neighborhoods of opportunity and places it in the context of past efforts to define neighborhood opportunity. Place-based and people-based approaches to urban revitalization and community development are linked to this concept. The place-based approach focuses on promoting inner-city revitalization in order to create neighborhoods of opportunity and the people-based approach focuses on connecting people to opportunities that already exist in the regions where they live. These approaches are
examined in relation to how they influence emerging models for siting affordable housing in both distressed inner-cities and more opportunity rich suburbs that surround them. The article concludes with recommendations for a new tiered approach to place-based and people-based strategies for affordable housing siting in core city and regional contexts