Event Recap: Homelessness is a Housing Problem (4/3)

Watch the full recording here!
Full Event Recap forthcoming

On April 4, 2023, BU Initiative on Cities and the School of Social Work hosted a discussion on homelessness in America. Why do some cities have higher rates of homelessness than others? What explains that regional variation, and what can local leaders do to reduce and prevent homelessness?

The event featured author Gregg Colburn (University of Washington), who shared insights from his recent book, Homelessness is a Housing Problem. Written in accessible style, Colburn and his co-author use hard data to test a range of conventional beliefs about what drives the prevalence of homelessness in a given city—including mental illness, drug use, poverty, weather, generosity of public assistance, and low-income mobility—and find that none explain why rates are so much higher in certain cities than others. Instead, housing market conditions, such as the cost and availability of rental housing, offer a more convincing explanation.

Following the book talk, a panel of experts – including Lyndia Downie (President, Pine Street Inn), Nikki Barfield (Deputy Director of Supportive Services for Veteran Families, VA), and Cecil Townsend, a lived experience expert – joined Gregg Colburn for a discussion on housing policy solutions. BU Associate Professor of Social Work, Thomas Byrne, moderated the discussion.