In general, we work out of concerns regarding ill-conceived and unjust housing policy. We want those who are responsible for housing policy to ‘get real’ about the housing situation for low-income people, and to move towards providing better, more permanent forms of support. We consider current housing policies to be
▪ Ill-conceived because they assume housing to be a private issue, while as the foreclosure crisis should make clear, our fates (through housing but also other economic and social issues) are structurally shared. Policy makers favor private over public investment and responsibility, claiming that “the private sector does it better” because it gets more for its money, is more productive, is more flexible, etc. We have reason to believe this is not true historically (as Susan’s and others’ research argues) nor should it be considered an inherent truth- the potential of public programs remains to be seen. Also, because public subsidies for low-income people are so contentious and under supported, and therefore not permanently institutionalized, the taxpayer money that is allocated to this need is under-utilized and often wasted.
▪ Unjust because they favor high-income people who have more and better options. Not only do the meager public subsidies that exist for low-income people fall far short of what is needed, the wealthy are enjoying massive subsidies that go unmentioned (i.e. the home interest deduction). In short, the housing market- much like education, healthcare, the job market, etc. – is not an even playing field.
We are building a research program at the GC that aims to address the above concerns by raising the visibility of housing as a public issue and by contributing to the development of more just and better-conceived alternatives. Ideally, we will work with other research groups at the GC and elsewhere to connect housing with issues like community development, heath, the aging population, education, etc.