This course will examine the operation of U.S. housing markets, the principal housing problems facing the nation, and the policy approaches available to address these problems within the existing political, regulatory and market context. The course is structured around four central housing problems that are the focus of US housing policy: the inability of a large share of renters to obtain housing that meets generally accepted affordability standards; the challenges facing low-income and minority households in attaining homeownership; the high degree of residential segregation by race/ethnicity and income and associated differential access to public and private resources that results; and how housing policy can support broader efforts at community development. Each section of the course will develop a detailed understanding of the nature of the problem, how the operation of housing markets either produce or fail to address the problem, introduce the principal federal, state and local policy approaches available to address the problem, and wrestle with critical policy questions that arise in choosing how best to address the problem.
The goal of the course is to build both a foundation of knowledge and a critical perspective needed to diagnose the genesis of the nation’s housing problems, to identify the potential policy levers for addressing these failures, and assess the relative merits of alternative approaches. Class sessions will be a mixture of lecture and class discussions focusing on the assigned readings. Students will be expected to come to class prepared to be fully engaged participants in these discussions. Over the course of the semester, students will be required to prepare periodic reviews of assigned readings shared on Canvas, submit a 5-page paper making the case for a specific policy proposal, and complete a take home final exam. The course is intended for graduate students with an interest in US housing policy, although no previous background in housing policy or disciplinary training is required.