Local Government Solutions to America’s Affordable Rental Housing Challenge

There are more than 10 million renters who are severely housing cost burdened – spending more than 50% of their income on shelter. The solutions to this national crisis are varied and involve all levels of government, but local governments are closest to the particular housing challenges in their communities and arguably have the widest range of levers to apply to the problem. This course will challenge students to create new and innovative approaches to the affordable housing problem that can be implemented at the local level.  These approaches will include a mix of strategies to raise additional funds for subsidies, reduce regulatory constraints, and encourage new forms of housing and new methods of housing construction. Students will be offering advice and solutions directly to mayors and housing professionals of four cities from different regions of the nation that have volunteered to serve as laboratories for the course: Pittsburgh, PA, Memphis, TN, Kansas City, MO, and West Jordan, UT. 

Students will receive a package of information about their cities in the first session of the class and will meet virtually with representatives of each of the cities early in the semester. Students will also have access to important local actors as the class proceeds. Students will present final reports to the city representatives providing a comprehensive strategy for the cities to adopt that will substantially resolve the cities’ current need for housing affordable to severely cost-burdened residents.

The course will be limited to 20 students who will be divided into teams that will serve as “consultants” to the mayors and housing professionals of the participating cities. While there are not explicit prerequisites, this course will work best for students with some experience, either academic or professional in the housing sector. 

The class will meet virtually each week.  Each class session will include a mix of mini lectures, presentations and discussions with invited guest experts, breakout sessions with city teams, and will often include presentations and discussions led by students. Grading will include class participation, periodic presentations, and the final comprehensive strategy. 

Course structure: The class will meet synchronously on Wednesdays from 2-4 ET.  A total of one hour of asynchronous class time will be assigned each week generally consisting of meetings of each team separately. While it may be ideal for the teams to meet in the 4-5 hour on Wednesday, each team will be free to select their own time to meet during the week.  Each faculty member will also schedule office hours at different times during the week and students may use that hour for team meetings with faculty. 

Note: the instructor will offer live course presentations on 01/19-01/21. To access the detailed schedule and Zoom links, please visit the Live Course Presentations Website. If you need assistance, please contact Estefanía Ibáñez