In PART 1, students are to review and analyze ONE major housing policy and program. You are limited NEITHER to federal housing policies and programs, NOR to the ones covered in this course. In fact, you can examine a proposed policy or a policy that has not been fully implemented. You can also study affordable housing issues in the Salt Lake Region. Please be focused! An in-depth analysis is always superior to a scattered one.
In PART 2, students focus on one presidential candidate, even if the person has dropped out, and look into the affordable housing policies the candidate has proposed. Please address the questions outlined.
OBJECTIVES: The overarching goal is for students to gain a better understanding of housing policy, to practice the ability to navigate the ambiguity of the policy world, to sharpen critical thinking skills, and to improve writing.
There are SEVEN specific objectives to this assignment:
- Understand the process of policymaking and key players;
- Delve into ONE policy piece and demonstrate the comprehensive knowledge of the policy or program;
- Synthesize alternative views about the policy;
- Appraise the policy and program based on available information;
- Explore and critically evaluate different information sources (use at least two peer-reviewed journal articles and include more than 6 different sources);
- Conduct peer-reviews; and
- Communicate research findings in a clear, concise, and logical manner.
KEY AREAS: Students will review various aspects of the policy and synthesize information in SIX key areas:
- The historical origin and evolution of the policy;
- Policy objectives, targets, and mechanism (e.g., Does it rely on penalty or incentive? What is the form of the subsidy? Is it a supply-side or demand-side program? Is it a shallow or deep subsidy?);
- Interest groups in the policy debate and their respective positions, and how their conflicts have played out in the policymaking process;
- Policy impacts and effectiveness (How many people are supported by the program? How much does the program cost? What is the cost-effectiveness?);
- Alternative views of the policy (Who are against it and why? What would the opponents want to do?); and
- Impacts on Utah and the future of the policy.
Please separate the report into sections and have section titles, such as introduction, history, policy objectives, and mechanism, interest group conflicts, program cost and effectiveness, alternative views, impacts on Utah, the future of the policy, and conclusions.
Use 3rd person, formal language, with proper grammar and punctuation. Avoid the personal pronoun ‘I’ in a report like this. The convention in much academic writing is to write with minimal reference to yourself as an author. Use your own words. Reference properly and follow a reference style.
BACKGROUND: In the second half of the course, we have been exposed to several affordable housing policies and programs. This assignment provides an opportunity for you to delve into the specifics of ONE policy and program.
Housing policy is developed to address housing problems. Specifically, they are designed to:
- Eliminate and replace substandard units (e.g., the Rental Rehabilitation program);
- Increase the demand for low-income households (e.g., the Housing Choice Voucher program);
- Stimulate employment and increase the production of affordable housing (e.g., LIHTC);
- Pursue a social agenda—anti-discrimination and job training for the disadvantaged (e.g., the Fair Housing Act)
- Improve the living conditions of the residents (e.g., the Healthy Homes program);
- Bolster the tax base in central cities and minority neighborhoods (e.g., the Community Reinvestment Act, local Economic Development initiatives, and Promise Zones);
- Mitigate urgent problems in the housing sector (e.g., HAMP, HARP, and Housing First)—tend to be short-term in nature;
- Improve affordability with local land-use policies such as affordable housing sales tax, fines for the lack of affordable housing, inclusionary zoning, in-lieu fees, multifamily tax exemption, bonus density, accessory dwelling units, and small lot development.
- Keep the cost of land in check by forming community land trusts; and
- Encourage certain behaviors (e.g., home mortgage interest deduction, the penalty for the lack of affordable housing, and FHA loans). You are not limited to the study of federal housing policy; you can also examine state and local programs. BUT you must get permission from your instructor first and, if you change your topic, you must receive the instructor’s permission.
In a time of budget uncertainties, housing policy has attracted much scrutiny. It is important to understand the efficiency and effectiveness of housing policy. Most programs rely on financial incentives, which are based on tax dollars. The public has the right to know how the tax dollars are spent and whether the spending is cost-effective.
Some serious criticism of U.S. housing policy is from the two economists—Ed Glaeser and Joe Gyourko. They have forcefully argued FOUR points: 1. housing policy should NOT be the tool to fight against poverty because it is neither efficient nor effective to mitigate poverty; 2. policy intervention may only be warranted when there is a clear market failure; 3. it is neither practical nor possible to lower the housing cost of Manhattan to the level of rural Utah; and 4. high housing cost in areas, such as Manhattan and the Silicon Valley, is partially due to local land regulations and restrictions. In their view, supply-side subsidies such as LIHTC are ineffective and should be abolished. Local governments in less affordable areas ought to increase land supply to improve affordability. But you should NEITHER copy my words NOR stop here. You MUST delve into their arguments, look at their evidence, and specifically examine their possible position on your chosen policy!
You MUST be critical in selecting your evidence. While it is fine to share your personal opinions, please focus on evidence.
QUESTIONS: Here are the study questions. You can use these to motivate your writing and help you organize your report.
- We have discussed the objectives of U.S. housing policy and programs. Which are the objectives of the policy? Why is it important (or not)? What problems was it intended to address? What is the target population of the policy?
- Please identify issue emergence. When was the program conceived? When did it start? In which legislation was the program created?
- Please give a brief history of the program (only the relevant history) after the introduction. How many people have been affected by the program? Are there any major changes to the program over the years?
- Please identify major interest groups involved in the policy debate. Who are the participants and stakeholders? What are their positions? Briefly discuss the political conflicts among these interest groups. Politicians and researchers are NOT normally considered as part of interest groups; instead, they might represent interest groups and reflect their reviews in the political discourse.
- What is the type of housing policy and what is the mechanism? Is it based on financial incentives, mandatory rules of conduct, private sector self-regulation, or just voluntary and information-based approaches? If the housing policy is based on a financial subsidy, is it a demand-side or supply-side subsidy? Is it a shallow or deep subsidy? You must discuss the mechanism of the policy. If it is a subsidy program, what is the level of subsidy and how is the subsidy distributed? If it is an enforcement program, how does the enforcement part work?
- What is the role of research? Have research findings affected policy decisions?
- Based on the available information, please critically evaluate the program and report how it has affected Utah. How successful is the program? How effective is it at achieving the original goals? Is it cost-effective? Is there a better way to support the housing needs? Please be specific in your answer.
- What is the current status of the program? How is it funded? What are the possible futures?
- What would be the views of the two economists, Glaeser and Gyourko, about this policy? Would they be in favor of the program? Why or why not? What about the positions of the homebuilders, the real estate service industry and other non-profit organizations?
- What is the future of this policy? Is it terminated?
- Page numbers, informative title, use shorter paragraphs and topic sentences in the beginning of your paragraph, and reference properly!