Howard Husock on The Poor Side of Town and Why We Need It


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Housing policy in America is inextricably linked with employment opportunities, small business ventures, education access, and a host of other issues that directly impact economic opportunity. Understanding the history of low income housing in America is key to understanding and reimagining housing policy today. On this episode of Hardly Working, I am joined by Howard Husock to discuss his new book, The Poor Side of Town and Why We Need It. The book lays out a history of American housing policy and a thesis on how low-income housing that allows for private ownership can serve as a gateway to upward mobility, rather than the concentrated and intergenerational poverty that characterizes low-income housing today.

Husock is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute where he focuses on urban housing policy, civil society, and municipal government. He has held positions at the Manhattan Institute, the Harvard Kennedy School, and has worked as Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker. We discuss the history of low income residencies in America, the loss of social capital in low income neighborhoods, how much of this is due to public policy interventions, and solutions to rethink housing policy. You can find Howard’s book on the AEI website. I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Mentioned During the Show

The Poor Side of Town and Why We Need It

Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

Edward Banfield: The Unheavenly City

Jacob Riis: How the Other Half Lives

Market Failure

Catherine Bauser: Modern Housing

Brookline, Mass. Town Meeting


Portland Urban Growth Boundary

Jane Jacobs Bio

Jane Jacobs: Death and Life of American Cities

Jane Jacobs: The Economy of Cities

Jane Jacobs: Cities and the Wealth of Nations

Robert Moses (housing projects)

Mutual aid definition

Detroit Urban League

Howard’s Senate Banking Committee Testimony

Raj Chetty Moving to Opportunity Study

Jeff Liebman Moving to Opportunity Study

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