National issues

Housers need to shun “over-opinionization” and appreciate the big picture

Book imageOne of the occupational diseases of working in affordable housing is overspecialization leading to “over-opinionization”.  This malady infects housing practitioners who have worked for years in one specific area exclusively.  The victim feels compelled to render strong opinions regarding the overall relative worth of his/her housing specialty while disparaging other housing needs and programs.

Tax credit developers disparage single family housing, single family developers can see no value in rental housing, and so on.

In short, overspecialization often causes housers to overvalue their specialization and, in the competition for scare funding, actively disparage other areas of housing.

The cure: get some perspective of the overall affordable housing problem.

I took the cure myself the first half of this year when I had the opportunity to teach a graduate seminar in affordable housing policy at the University of Texas at Austin. [Yeah, I know, who knows what they were thinking when they asked me to do this.]

I assigned the class a very readable housing policy survey book that I recommend to everyone who cares to expand their perspective to the full scope of the current affordable housing challenge. The book is Housing Policy in the United States: An Introduction by Alex F. Schwartz.

Schwartz surveys the entire breadth of the affordable housing field and analyzes each programmatic approach, exploring policy and funding issues.

I started my commitment to housing justice for people and communities with low incomes in 1975 in Austin's Clarksville community. These years of working side-by-side with dedicated community leaders to find solutions to housing and community development challenges have taught me some things and I’m learning new things every day.

%d bloggers like this: