Lessons from the Housing Crisis


  • Author’s Note: Alex Schwartz, PhD, is an Associate Professor and Chair of the graduate program in Urban Policy Analysis and Management at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy. Please address correspondence to Alex Schwartz, School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy, The New School, 72 Fifth Avenue, Room 505, New York, NY 10011; e-mail: schwartz@newschool.edu.


Public discourse on the causes and consequences of the housing crisis, and the appropriate policy responses, has been ideological and partisan. The collapse of the housing bubble in 2007 and the subsequent financial crisis and deep recession could and should have prompted the nation to reconsider many core assumptions about the role of the market in the housing finance system and about the value of homeownership, among many other questions, however, this was not to be. In this essay I draw some lessons from the crisis, both for public policy and for education. To frame the discussion, I first sketch out the state of the nation’s housing and mortgage markets as of the spring of 2011, and review the actions that the federal government has taken to date to address the crisis and revive the housing market.