Land, Housing, and Homelessness

Although land and housing are just forms of wealth, they are particularly important forms of wealth because they serve consumption as well as investment ends. That is, the land and houses that we own are typically places of residence, and they therefore establish the neighborhoods in which we live and the social settings within which we go to school, participate in community affairs, and otherwise interact with others. Also, because land and housing are most people's main assets, the distribution of wealth is determined in large part by the institutions governing land and home ownership. It follows that land and housing are very special forms of wealth and, as a result, have been the subject of much research.


Is land becoming more or less equally distributed? How is the accumulation of land-based wealth affected by zoning laws, property taxes, and related laws?


Is home ownership becoming an increasingly important component of overall wealth? Are homeowners increasingly willing to tap this wealth for the purposes of consumption? Is the black-white gap in wealth attributable in large part to differential rates of home ownership and to differential access to housing in rapidly appreciating neighborhoods? What role does overt discrimination play in accounting for residential segregation by race?


How many homeless people are there? Is the number of homeless people increasing? Is there a virtually permanent underclass of homeless people? What are the main risk factors for homelessness? How do the challenges of mental illness, divorce, and disability figure into homelessness?

"When the rich wage war it is the poor who die." - Jean-Paul Sartre

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