Is subsidized housing in sustainable neighborhoods? Evidence from Chicago

Emily Talen, Julia Koschinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


This article explores the connection between subsidized housing and sustainable urban form. Given the general disconnect between new market-rate housing in sustainable, walkable neighborhoods and affordable housing opportunities, we expect affordable housing to be located in less sustainable locations in terms of proximity to amenities, walkability, street connectivity, density, and diversity of urban form. A rich set of parcel and planning data for the city of Chicago was used to correlate sustainability indicators with the locations of both project- and tenant-based affordable housing programs. Difference-in-means tests and other descriptive statistical analysis suggest that project-based locations (with the exception of Chicago Housing Authority family units) actually score above average, especially in terms of accessibility and walkability, albeit it at the cost of concentrated poverty, racial segregation, and crime. In contrast, vouchers are located in less sustainable locations when it comes to accessibility and walkability, although they are in neighborhoods with more diversity and less poverty - and, at lower voucher concentrations, with less segregation and crime - than project units.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalHousing Policy Debate
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • Location
  • Low-income housing
  • Neighborhood
  • Sustainability
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Urban Studies
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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