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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Rachel G. Kleit
PB AF 564
Seattle Campus

Housing and Social Policy

Focuses on the problem of affordable housing and its interrelationships with social problems in the United States.

Class description

This course focuses on the problem of affordable housing and its interrelationships with social problems in the United States. By the end of this class, you'll be able to answer the following questions:

* What's the problem--what exactly do we mean by affordable housing? * What is the impact of housing on people’s lives? How do we use it variously as shelter, as investment, an asset, as a market commodity? * How does the system of housing provision and finance in the U.S. deliver affordable housing? Who benefits the most? * What are and should be people's rights with regard to housing? * How can housing enable or prevent access to opportunity for minorities and low-income individuals? * What lessons can we learn from the recent mortgage crisis for the future of housing policy?

We begin with an analysis of the causes, extent, and social dimensions of affordable housing problems. In order to understand the current context, we trace the history of housing policy at the federal, state, and local levels since the beginning of the 20th century, analyzing the political perspectives that have shaped the debates concerning affordable housing policy in the past and will shape them into the future. We explore the refocusing of affordable housing policy on social problems rather than the provision of affordable housing, including examinations of mixed-income housing, poverty dispersal policies, low-income homeownership efforts, and maintaining the long-term affordability of housing. Together we will examine the complex delivery and finance system for affordable housing as it has evolved through changing federal priorities, including federal, state, and local programs, the non-profit and private sectors, secondary lending markets, and the tax system. We end with an exploration of promising strategies for the future.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

This class is run as a seminar. The quality of each class session will depend upon your preparation; read the material and come to class willing to discuss it with your colleagues. For each class, one or two people will be assigned as resources for the rest of the class. Those two people will make sure to pay especially close attention to the readings, develop questions to help guide discussion, and will have responsibility for making sure our conversation covers the aspects of the readings they found especially salient. The team of students will their succinct discussion questions to the class listserv by noon the day prior to the class session.

You should also come to class having read a national newspaper, such as the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, or the Wall Street Journal, looking specifically for housing –related stories With the recent downturn in the housing market, falling interest rates and increasing foreclosures, each day brings something new to the study of housing policy. We will spend part of each class educating each about affordable housing, housing markets, mortgage foreclosures, discussions of affordable housing in the presidential campaign, and whatever else you may find that pertains to the topic at hand. Participating in these discussions counts as part of your participation grade.

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

The two written assignments for this class allow you to focus on an area of interest to you. In the first paper, you will write a memo characterizing the extent and causes of your choice of a housing and related social problem. For the final paper you will critically assess one potential solution to the either a housing problem or a social problem for which housing is a solution. The second paper will go through an instructor and peer review process to give you some feedback prior to handing in a final version of your paper. For both papers, your audience is a busy policy maker who knows little about the topic.

Class participation: 20% Paper 1: 35% Final Paper 2: 45%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Rachel G. Kleit
Date: 10/25/2010