This course introduces students to housing as an area of national and local policy in the United States, focusing on the rationales for approaches taken to meeting the housing needs of the poor and those with low incomes over time. Emphasis will be placed on the intersection between housing policy and local planning practice.
We will revisit key assumptions underlying housing policies regarding:
- the purposes of housing policy,
- the appropriate balance between public and private roles in the housing market and in the production of affordable housing,
- the division of responsibility between federal, state and local governments in shaping policy goals and priorities and addressing housing needs,
- how to measure housing needs and set priorities for use of scarce funds at the city level,
- the importance of low income homeownership,
- the appropriate location of affordable housing,
- the role of nonprofit and community-based organizations in provision of affordable housing, and
- the relationship of housing goals to broader goals of urban sustainability.
Historically, when city planners have been most bold in pursuing new visions of city life, the consequences have been dire for low income communities. Urban renewal efforts aimed at building a “modern” city that could attract residents back from the suburbs destroyed many low income communities, often home to minorities or immigrants. The lessons of these past efforts are rooted in an understanding of their historical context, including the problems they were intended to address, the political and materials interests involved, as well as results for low income people. Currently, planners are trying to foster more climate-friendly cities by redeveloping zones around “transit corridors.” Can we avoid the pitfalls of past renewal policies to foster more inclusive forms of redevelopment? We will explore this issue, and related debates over policy directions, throughout the semester.