This course will examine why there is a need for decent and affordable housing and what the public and private sectors are doing to address this need.  The course will feature weekly guest speakers from academia, government, and non-profit organizations who will share with students their perspective on housing. Students will participate in discussions and group activities to further reflect on material presented by lecturers. Topics include housing segregation, gentrification, public policy, community and economic development, homelessness, health and housing, land use and housing planning, green building, privatization of housing, and more.


CP 201A is the first part of a two-semester course sequence, totaling eight units, that introduces first-year students in the Master of City Planning (MCP) program to a suite of data collection, data analysis, problem solving, and presentation methods that are essential for practicing planners. The course focuses on supporting integrated problem solving, using a case-based approach to introduce methods in sequenced building-blocks. The course also prepares MCP students for more advanced courses in statistics, GIS, observation, qualitative methods, survey methods, and public participation.

The two-semester course is designed to introduce students to problem identification in the planning realm, and to the data collection and analysis skills relevant to addressing those problems. Through lectures, case studies, and assignments, students will achieve the following learning objectives:

  • Identify planning problems and questions
  • Design and implement a research project in response to a planning problem or question
  • Understand how to use secondary data to address planning problems and questions, and become familiar with the primary data sources and metrics used in planning practice
  • Become a critical consumer of statistics, methods, and evidence/arguments in the press and in policy, planning and advocacy publications
  • Think critically about research problems and research design, learn what kinds of problems planners address in day-to-day life, and recognize the role of theory in shaping both questions and research design
  • Prepare clear, accurate and compelling text, graphics and maps for use in documents
  • Learn how to write for different audiences, and effectively include data/evidence in writing


This is a watershed moment in U.S. housing policy; we are in the midst of the largest housing crisis since the 1930s, and it is unclear what the structure of housing finance will look like going forward. For the first time ever, there is a federal agency tasked with protecting consumer interests in the mortgage market (the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau), and with the passage of Dodd Frank, policy-makers are writing new regulations that will fundamentally change how mortgages are underwritten and financed.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also known as the Government Sponsored Enterprises, are in conservatorship and on the brink of being abolished, and the Federal Housing Administration is struggling to build its capital reserves while still providing access to affordable credit. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has launched a number of new initiatives that build on lessons learned from past policy mistakes, but is hamstrung by limited funding and uncertain political support.  And the foreclosure crisis, which is slowly abating, has nevertheless disrupted the housing and financial stability of millions of American families, reinforcing and exacerbating patterns of discrimination and residential segregation. 

How did we get here?  And what should U.S. housing policy look like going forward? The goal of this class is to build a foundation of knowledge that will help students to think critically about these two questions.  Through readings, case studies, and hands-on exercises, the class will explore a range of topics, including the history of U.S. housing policy, the structure of housing and related financial markets, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the different tools available to intervene in these markets including subsidies (both direct and indirect) and regulation.  The course will be oriented to contemporary issues in US housing policy and will pay particular attention to how housing is intertwined with issues of inequality and access to opportunity for lower-income and minority households. By the end of the class, students will understand the origins of contemporary debates in U.S. housing policy, gain familiarity with the programs, players, and best practices in the field, and develop their ability to evaluate the tradeoffs and challenges inherent in different policy approaches.


Community development, broadly defined as efforts to improve the quality of life in low‐income communities, has existed in different forms for centuries. However, in the 1950s and 1960s, the United States witnessed the development of a professionalized “field” of community development, encompassing a wide range of institutions, policies and programs. Today, the community development field has become a significant player in the urban political economy, and community development organizations have assumed many of the roles once considered the domain of local and federal governments, from constructing and managing affordable housing to providing education and other social services. At the same time, the foreclosure crisis threatens to undo decades of community development work, and many of the most important sources of community development funding have fallen prey to local and federal budget cuts. Among community development professionals, there is a growing consensus that the field is at an important crossroads in its history, and that it will need to innovate and adapt to more effectively respond to the profound challenges facing low‐income communities.

In this course, we will examine the historical factors that led to the emergence of the community development field, and explore how that history has shaped contemporary community development policies and approaches. The goal of the course is to give students a theoretically‐informed understanding of the community development field, and to develop their ability to think critically and creatively about the programs and policies that will be needed going forward. What role do communities play, both in the larger political economy and in the daily lives of people? How can theories from economics, sociology, political science, geography and planning help us to understand the context for community development practice? What are the respective roles of government, community development corporations, community development financial institutions, foundations and community organizers? What are the most promising practices emerging in the field? As we consider these questions, we’ll explore the tensions that exist between people‐ and place‐based policies, the difficulties of linking interventions at the neighborhood level with those at the regional scale, and the challenges of measuring the impact of community development investments. Throughout the course, practical case studies and guest lecturers will provide a real‐world perspective on community development practices and the obstacles faced in implementing programs at the local level.


This study of cities is more important than ever; for the first time in history more people live in urban than rural areas, and cities will account for all of the world's population growth for at least the next half-century. We will explore the challenges facing global cities in the 21st Century and expose students to some of the key texts, theories, and methods of inquiry that shape the built environment, from the human scale of home and community to the regional scale of the megacity.