Professor Lens' research focuses on housing consumption behavior, inter-group differences in outcomes, and effects of anti-poverty housing programs. He looks at relationships between affordable housing programs and neighborhood crime using applied econometric methods and longitudinal data at the national scale and in New York City. His research directly challenges existing research suggesting that households using voucher subsidies live in similar neighborhoods to those who utilize tax credit housing programs in terms of both poverty concentration and residential segregation (thereby suggesting that housing vouchers have little to no effect on neighborhood choice and quality of life). He argues that (1) public safety more than poverty rates is a principal factor in residential choice, (2) residential choice patterns vary systematically by race/ethnicity, and (3) subsidized housing does not increase neighborhood crime rates.
Professor Lens teaches courses on Housing Markets and Policy and Research Design Methods.