Urban Studies 600 Capstone


Spatial Patterns in Affordable Housing: An Analysis of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Developments in Milwaukee County


Dakota Crowell

Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date



Since the 1949 Housing Act, housing programs have been attempting to provide decent homes in suitable neighborhoods. Previous research indicates, however, certain provisions in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) could lead to a clustering of low-income housing units in high-poverty neighborhoods. High-poverty neighborhoods are often associated with inequalities in public schools, safety, and public health so policymakers and housing advocates need to pay attention to locational patterns of all affordable housing programs. Due to the many local factors that contribute to the location of LIHTC developments, previous studies have shown mixed results as to whether LIHTC developments are being concentrated in high-poverty neighborhoods. This study examines neighborhood characteristics and spatial patterns of LIHTC developments in Milwaukee County using census data and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s LIHTC database. A set of neighborhood characteristics were used to produce z-scores of neighborhood distress in each census tract and addresses of LIHTC units were geocoded and joined to the tract data. A cluster analysis using the Local Moran’s I statistic was used to determine statistically significant clustering of low-income units. While LIHTC units were found to be located in a wide range of neighborhoods in Milwaukee County, the majority were located in very high and high distressed neighborhoods in Milwaukee. It seems the Qualified Census Tract bonus is working to provide more low income units in hard to serve areas.