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In both the US and abroad, the housing “crisis” has grown from a poor person problem to an everybody problem, thus attracting the attention of policymakers at the local, state, and national level. Planners are in a special position to help craft innovative policy solutions, implement them with equity and justice in mind, and evaluate their effectiveness. Because planners embrace theory and methodology across the social sciences, their housing policy toolkit is not limited by disciplinary blindspots. Quite the contrary, planners have the ability to combine their own disciplinary expertise on landuse and design with theory and evidence from sociology, economics, and public policy –  all of which are necessary if we are to improve housing conditions in cities across the world.

This academic course stream will teach students not only nature of the various national and international housing crises, but also the multiple interventions that have been used to resolve the issues (including their mild successes and catastrophic failures). Students will be training understand the implications of various housing interventions, to design and evaluate housing research, and to engage directly with communities around issues of housing justice.

For those interested in housing, Hawaii presents an ideal (albeit tragic) setting for study. By virtue of its limited land and spatial isolation, housing burdens have long affected its citizens across the income distribution, resulting in significant resources being invested (and usually wasted) in crafting solutions. Unlike most mainland cities, the policy landscape in Hawaii is not limited to domestic models, as politicians, practitioners, planners, and researchers derive inspiration from throughout the Pacific. While too often marginalized in such discussions, Kanaka Oiwi housing experts similarly present novel solutions to their communities’ housing issues well outside the hegemonic mainstream.

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