NIMBY project opponents rely on an ever-shifting array of flimsy arguments to challenge new housing developments, especially those with affordable housing components. Among the most frequently stated concerns is the notion that building new affordable housing will reduce local property values and/or increase crime. Many studies have been conducted that show the fallacy of these assertions. The latest comes from the Livable Cities Lab at UC Irvine, which studied the effect on local housing values and local levels of crime following the construction of affordable housing in the County of Orange, California.
The new study, entitled The Impact of Affordable Housing on Housing & Crime in Orange County, evaluated data on all residential home sales between 2001 and 2020 within two miles of affordable housing developments and within three years before and after the development’s opening date. The study focused on two measures of home values, the total sales price and the price per square foot, adjusted for various factors such as inflation. And the study looked at crime from several angles, comparing the amount of crime in blocks both before and after affordable housing construction.
The study found that on average the sales price of homes nearby increased after affordable housing construction, with the biggest increase in homes closest to the project. The study also found a decrease in violent crimes such as aggravated assaults and robberies after the construction of affordable housing, and a slight increase in motor vehicle thefts.
The new UCI study is consistent with prior research studying the effect of affordable housing on property values and public safety, which consistently shows that affordable housing does not harm local communities.