Using rich and detailed data, this groundbreaking book explains why homelessness has become a crisis in America and reveals the structural conditions that underlie it.
In Homelessness Is a Housing Problem, Gregg Colburn and Clayton Page Aldern seek to explain the substantial regional variation in rates of homelessness in cities across the United States. In a departure from many analytical approaches, Colburn and Aldern shift their focus from the individual experiencing homelessness to the metropolitan area. Using accessible statistical analysis, they test a range of conventional beliefs about what drives the prevalence of homelessness in a given city—including mental illness, drug use, poverty, weather, generosity of public assistance, and low-income mobility—and find that none explain the regional variation observed across the country. Instead, housing market conditions, such as the cost and availability of rental housing, offer a far more convincing account. With rigor and clarity, Homelessness Is a Housing Problem explores U.S. cities' diverse experiences with housing precarity and offers policy solutions for unique regional contexts.
Gregg Colburn is Assistant Professor at the University of Washington, where he studies housing policy, housing affordability, and homelessness.
Clayton Page Aldern is a data scientist and policy analyst based in Seattle.
"Colburn and Aldern’s analysis is essential and convincing, providing a framework for understanding the root causes of homelessness."
— San Francisco Examiner
"The book’s central question is this: What might explain the substantial regional variation in per capita homeless rates in the United States? The answers may not surprise everyone, but the authors’ route to their conclusions will both inform and inspire. . . . There is plenty of material in the book for individuals wondering how to advocate for affordable housing, churches discerning giving or leasing land for housing, and communities that want to be proactive and avoid a housing crisis."
— Christian Century
"Ultimately, Homelessness Is a Housing Problem
should erase any doubt about the powerful role of housing markets in creating homelessness. Written with straightforward prose and digestible empirical analyses suitable for academic and lay audiences alike, the book will serve as a useful resource for planners seeking to dispel myths about homelessness and zero in on its causes."
— Journal of the American Planning Association
"Timely and readable."
— Journal of Urban Affairs