Skip to content
CityLab
Housing

What Does Affordable Housing Do to Nearby Property Values?

A new Urban Institute study examined low-income housing in Alexandria, Virginia, to look for new answers to an age-old question. 

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge speaks after a tour of The Spire, a new affordable apartment complex in Alexandria, Virginia, in August 2021. A new study analyzes the effect that low-income housing has on properties nearby. 

HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge speaks after a tour of The Spire, a new affordable apartment complex in Alexandria, Virginia, in August 2021. A new study analyzes the effect that low-income housing has on properties nearby. 

Photographer: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc. via Getty Images

In September 2020, the city council of Alexandria, Virginia, met to discuss whether to move forward with an affordable housing project. On a few acres in the city’s residential West End neighborhood, a developer proposed to build townhouses and condos priced for first-time homebuyers, with a few units reserved for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Neighbors who lived in the single-family homes nearby showed up to the meeting, and they had questions. One of the biggest: What would happen to their property values?