Research Portal

March 17, 2022

Gregg Colburn’s new book presents opportunity to ‘rethink housing’

Gregg Colburn, Assistant Professor of Real Estate, co-authored a new book titled Homelessness is a Housing Problem, alongside journalist Clayton Aldern.

The new book explores the factors that drive homelessness, and the cultural and economic shift that can ultimately benefit all — housed and unhoused.

Colburn believes housing market conditions — specifically, high housing and rental prices, and low vacancy rates — exacerbate economic and personal challenges for society’s most vulnerable. And it’s the housing market, aided by the private and public sectors, that can provide the solution.

“We know that there are individual factors that increase the risk of homelessness for individuals, maybe poverty or health issues or substance use. But those factors alone don’t explain the huge problem we have in Seattle, or San Francisco or Los Angeles,” Colburn said. “If we continue to blame individuals for particular outcomes, we’re going to miss the fundamental driver of this crisis — housing market dynamics. We have a gross undersupply of housing at all levels, but certainly of affordable housing. Failure to address that gap will, I think, guarantee that we will continue to struggle with this crisis in perpetuity.”

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