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Homelessness is a Housing Problem – Gregg Colburn

April 18 @ 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

2024 Iowa State University Homelessness Symposium

Keynote Address

Gregg Colburn is an associate professor in the Runstad Department of Real Estate in the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments. He publishes on topics related to housing and homelessness and is the co-author of Homelessness is a Housing Problem: How Structural Factors Explain U.S. Patterns (University of California Press, 2022). His research has been featured in leading media outlets, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, The Economist, Bloomberg and National Public Radio.

Colburn holds a BA from Albion College, MBA from Northwestern University, and MSW and PhD from the University of Minnesota. Prior to joining academia, he worked as an investment banker and private equity professional. At the University of Washington, Colburn teaches classes in housing, urban economics and finance. He serves as co-chair of the University of Washington’s Homelessness Research Initiative and is a member of the National Alliance to End Homelessness Research Council.

In Homelessness Is a Housing Problem, Colburn and Clayton Page Aldern seek to explain the substantial regional variation in rates of homelessness in cities across the United States. In a departure from many analytical approaches, Colburn and Aldern shift their focus from the individual experiencing homelessness to the metropolitan area.

Using accessible statistical analysis, they 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 the regional variation observed across the country. Instead, housing market conditions, such as the cost and availability of rental housing, offer a far more convincing account. With rigor and clarity, Homelessness Is a Housing Problem explores U.S. cities’ diverse experiences with housing precarity and offers policy solutions for unique regional contexts.


Colburn will be introduced by Angie Arthur, executive director of Homeward. His free lecture is part of the 2024 Iowa State University Homelessness Symposium hosted by the Department of Community and Regional Planning with support from the Gordon Family Endowment. See the complete news release


Kocimski Auditorium (101 Design)
715 Bissell Road
Ames, IA 50011-1066 United States
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