Course Syllabus: Urban Housing in Crisis

Source: Homeless Shelters as Band-Aids: Housing Is a Human Right (

This fall I am teaching a 2-credit undergraduate elective in the Geography and Urban Studies department at Temple University about the housing crisis. The class meets weekly for 2.5 hours and is primarily reading and discussion-based. I’m sharing the syllabus below.



This course will look at the roots and drivers of the contemporary housing crisis as it plays out across the urban landscape using a Right to Housing framework. Affordability, segregation and discrimination, homelessness, eviction, homeownership and mortgages, and gentrification/redevelopment will be the main issues around which this course is structured. Students will engage these topics through assigned readings and media presentations, seeking out relevant local news sources, and discussing these topics and sources in class. For the final assignment, students will choose a topic related to the housing crisis and develop a project of their choosing around it.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will have a historical and geographical understanding of the processes segregation and discrimination, homelessness, eviction, homeownership and mortgages, gentrification, and redevelopment.
  2. Students will understand how these processes are connected and be able to use a Right to Housing framework to describe the processes and think critically about possible solutions.
  3. Students will understand how these processes interact in the city of Philadelphia in particular.

Required Book

housing americ a coverMolina, Emily Tumpson (2017) Housing America: Issues and Debates. Routledge: New York. You can purchase this book for $37.95 (paperback) or $18.95 (ebook) via the Routledge website:

  • The Introduction to this book can be found on Google Books if you don’t get it in time for the first class. There is a link up on Canvas.
  • At the end of each chapter (excluding the introduction) you will find a list of discussion questions. Use them as a guide to important points as you read and take notes so you are prepared to discuss the material in class.
  • You can order this book through Head House Books, a local independent book store in Queen Village (619 S 2nd St.; 215-923-9525)

9/26 Introduction ·         Housing America, Introduction (pp 1-10)
10/3 Right to Housing ·         “Why a Right to Housing Is Needed and Makes Sense: Editors’ Introduction.” In A Right to Housing: Foundation for a New Social Agenda, edited by Bratt Rachel G., Stone Michael E., and Hartman Chester, 1-19. Temple University Press, 2006. (pp 1-19)
10/10 US Housing Policy: Historical Overview ·         A Brief-Ish History of Housing Policy in the US (2018) Heather Squire.
10/17 Affordability ·         Housing America, Housing Affordability (pp 12-42)

·         Proposal for Final Project Due (upload to Canvas)

10/24 Segregation and Discrimination ·         Housing America, Segregation and Discrimination (pp 49-72)
10/31 Homelessness ·         Housing America, Homelessness (pp 79-101)
11/7 Eviction and Substandard Housing ·         TBD
11/14 Homeownership and Home Finance ·         Housing America, Homeownership and Home Financing (pp 107-126)
11/21 Fall Break (no class) We will not meet, but there will be an opportunity for extra credit for those who are interested.
11/28 Gentrification and Redevelopment ·         TBD
12/5 Last Day of Class Presentations
Course Syllabus: Urban Housing in Crisis

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s