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CFH Responds to a Recent IBO Report

The Independent Budget Office (IBO) recently released a study that looks at the impact of shelters on housing values in Manhattan. The data covered the years between 2010 and 2018 and looked at the sales of condominiums and one to three family homes. The findings of the report have been widely criticized by homeless service providers, advocates, elected officials and the community. One of the most egregious impacts of this report is not the content itself, but the message it sends to critics of homeless services in different neighborhoods of NYC and the NIMBYism sentiment that goes along with it.

Our Executive Director, George Nashak, released the following statement: “Its alarming to see the IBO analysis of the alleged impact of homeless shelters on housing values be reported without a critical evaluation of its deeply flawed methodology. The study is based on a correlational analysis that, as we all know, does not by itself convey causation.  No consideration is given in the analysis to potential intervening variables; for example, both the shelter and the housing unit might be located on a block with depressed housing values – a real possibility since the budgets to acquire shelters are very limited.  The analysis also makes such egregiously false statements (to choose only one example: that shelters have no social services and supportive housing programs have intensive social services) that we must question any conclusions it reaches. The author demonstrates no understanding of the facts yet draws profound conclusions. The IBO also fails to account for why this ‘effect’ allegedly occurs.  Are we to believe that many purchasers of housing in Manhattan conduct a scan for nearby shelters before making an offer on a property?  An uncritical acceptance of its conclusions will contribute to the stigmatization of people experiencing homelessness and the services designed to assist them.”

Even with the flawed methodology this report was still released, and to what end? Every day the City is trying to address its affordable housing crisis. On top of it being the right thing to do, it must adhere to a legal mandate to provide temporary emergency shelter to every man, woman, and child who is eligible for these services. This is a crucial safety net for many individuals who are unable to maintain stable housing due to a variety of intervening factors. All this report will do is increase the stigma that people experiencing homelessness already face every day. A better alternative is to report on policies that help us address the homelessness crisis, not hinder it.

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