Housing Delivery Systems in the United States

This is a basic course to introduce students to the American system for producing housing. We look at seven \”actors\” — consumers, developers, lenders, infrastructure providers, regulators, subsidy providers and intermediaries – and consider their interactions that produce the housing we get in this country. The first part of the course is spent in exploring the nature of each of these actors and their prominent entities, motivations, limitations and relations with the other elements of the system. We will pay particular attention to the three types of developers that drive the American system – for profit, non profit and public – examining their role in housing production in some depth. In the second half of the course, we will look at a number of related issues, including alternate delivery systems used in other parts of the world, current issues in the American approach to housing, the links between housing and other critical urban systems (transportation, education, energy, public health, infrastructure) and proposed innovations in our approach to housing production. We will have a number of guests in the class from Boston\’s very active housing network. The goal of the class is that students gain a basic understanding of how the US housing system works, learn the vocabulary and jargon of the field, and begin to perceive how the system can be changed if they feel it needs to be. The course is conducted as a seminar, with a premium placed on active engagement in class conversations. Students prepare two brief papers, offering their opinions about potential improvements in our current housing delivery system. Reading is moderate and there is no exam. Grades are based on the two papers and the level of participation in class discussions. There are no prerequisites.