Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 2 hours / session

Course Description

The devolution of federal welfare and housing programs to states and localities has highlighted the need for shared agendas around issues of subsidized housing, welfare, social services and workforce development. In addition, the continued national focus on homelessness, and "special needs housing" for targeted populations - AIDS, battered women, frail elderly - has underlined the importance of local and state coordination and communication among practitioners in the housing and human services fields. Given the need for collaborative work, both "housers" and "human service professionals" can benefit from understanding "the other" and how to bridge in practice between two professional perspectives.

This course then will focus on the interaction between the housing and human service systems (the conflicts and congruities in practice) and will explore how the differing world views, professional perspectives, and institutional needs of the two systems play out operationally in national, state and local policies and programs. Special attention will be devoted to how networks are created that cross and connect the housing and service domains as well as the barriers to such bridging.

In our view the housing system is made up of the public, private, and nonprofit organizations involved in the financing, subsidization, and management of housing for low income and special needs groups: the mentally handicapped and AIDS clients for example. The human service system comprises those organizations, the primary focus of which is the service domain for people with particular needs such as welfare, mental health, job training, social, and elder services.

The course seeks to identify the "action frame" (i.e. world view) of these two systems and the ways in which these views influence practice. We also explore the ways that views of "best practice" cut across the two systems such that "debates" are less about the differences between the world views of housers and social service professionals and more about the "right way" to deal with the housing / service issue of the population under consideration: i.e. the elderly, the homeless, battered women, the chronically mentally ill.

We want to look at practice dilemmas - whom to serve, how to prioritize, how to bridge ideological differences - and how professionals have sought to deal with those dilemmas.

Part I identifies the main issues in the interaction between housing and human service systems. It introduces social science concepts related to the interaction in practice between housing and human services.

Part II focuses on "categories of population to be housed." We look at the history of the category, the issues surrounding its housing and services needs and in several instances how practitioners (all graduates or almost-graduates of DUSP) are handling the challenge in the real world. The case of transitional housing is an exception where we are looking at a form of housing which serves a number of populations.

Part III focuses on student papers. To expand our knowledge of how human service and housing issues play out in practice, each student will develop a case study of a local or state organization that is dealing with the interface between the housing and human service systems. Hopefully some of you will already be working in intern settings that will provide the context and data for such a study. If not we will produce organizations for you and will help connect you with the actors in these situations. Students may also use relevant cases to which they already have or can get access.

The purpose of the paper is to apply the vocabulary and perspective developed in the course to a practice situation: to explore how that practice reflects (or conversely the ways it is at odds with) the view of the housing-human service worlds evolved in the course.

Course Requirements

  • The class will meet once a week for two hours.
  • Many readings are on the web and we will give you the sites.
  • Our expectation is that you will have done the readings, reflected on them and the questions we will pose about them for you to consider before class.
  • Significant but fascinating paper required as the written work for the course: to be discussed in first class.