Population Health

July 26, 2022

UW professor’s book redefines reasoning and solutions for homelessness

Tent encampment on a city sidewalkUniversity of Washington faculty member Gregg Colburn recently authored a book titled Homelessness is a Housing Problem, which highlights factors of homelessness and solutions that lie in the housing market. His research contextualizes homelessness across different areas of the country and seeks to create a cultural and societal shift in the way homelessness is addressed.

Through his research, Colburn concluded that homelessness is exacerbated primarily by housing market conditions in a specific area. High housing and rental prices combined with low vacancy rates and an overall lack of affordable housing options drives the housing crisis seen in cities across the U.S., including Seattle.

For Seattle specifically, Colburn stresses the need for investing in both short- and long-term responses to the homelessness crisis. In addition to expanding shelter capacity and services, it is important to focus on long-term affordable housing initiatives. Colburn emphasizes that these long-term solutions will require public funding, in addition to supplementary private sector funds, which will require a cultural shift in the perception around housing as a public good. Striving to increase affordable housing will ultimately benefit the well-being of an entire community but will demand a collective mindset shift and policy changes to achieve long-term results.

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