Job Market Candidate, 2023-24
Fields: Urban Economics, Public Economics, Labor Economics
References: Marcus Casey (Chair), Ben Feigenberg, Darren Lubotsky, Erik Hembre
Abstract: This paper studies the impact of homeless encampments on residential property values with a novel procedure that infers the presence of encampments using citizen-made complaints about them. I find that 58% of residential properties transacted in Los Angeles between March 2016 and August 2022 had homeless encampments within 0.3 miles and sold on average for 3.14% less than they otherwise would have, a total realized loss of over $2.5 billion across more than 70,000 properties. I use the realized losses on property transactions to price the citywide externalities associated with homeless encampments at $32.4 billion, more than double the projected cost of housing all 31,000 people living on the streets of Los Angeles. Pricing the externalities from homeless encampments leads to a more thorough accounting of the costs associated with homelessness, not just for those experiencing it, but for all residents of cities that struggle to contain it.