Jake Wegmann, assistant professor of Community and Regional Planning at The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture, has been selected by the Office of the Vice President for Research as the recipient of the 2017-18 University Co-operative Society's Best Paper Award. The article, "Measuring Informal Housing Production in California Cities," co-authored with Sarah Mawhorter, postdoctoral scholar at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California, Berkeley, was published in the Spring 2017 issue of The Journal of the American Planning Association.
Wegmann and Mawhorter's research investigates the significance of informal housing--that is, built without proper permitting--in incorporated cities by developing a method for measuring informal channels of construction at the scale of the individual city. Informal housing manifests in a variety of physical forms, including single-family homes converted into multiple units and permanently parked travel trailers adjacent to main houses. Scholarship on the topic of informal housing is scant, with very little currently existing data available for local planners. By developing a simple accouting formula that relies upon data easily accessible to planners, Wegmann and Mawhorter present an estimate of the amount of informal housing as a percentage of the total growth in housing stock occuring in California cities in the 1990s and 2000s. While cautious on the magnitude of their findings, Wegmann and Mawhorter present a threefold call-to-action: an urge to US-based researchers to perform empirical studies in their own locales, a request for planners who work within local governments to gather more data that will help reveal the extent of informal housing markets in their jurisdictions, and a call for state and federal government to become involved in an effort to enact systematic change. Again cautious, Wegmann and Mawhorter conclude the article by suggesting some basic principles concerning how best to address informal housing at the local, state, and federal levels.
Since 1997, the University Co-op Hamilton Book Author Awards have recognized the outstanding scholarship and creativity of University of Texas at Austin faculty and staff members. The Best Research Paper Award, as part of the Hamilton Book Awards Program, is presented to a faculty or staff researcher who is the principal or sole author of a peer-reviewed scholarly paper reporting original research.
Assistant Professor Wegmann and other recipients of awards in the 2017-18 Hamilton Book Author Awards Program will be honored at a banquet the evening of Tuesday, October 30.