My Work on Housing

I began my career in housing as a tenant organizer on the West Side of Manhattan, and it has been an important part of my writing, research, advocacy and policy development ever since. I am increasingly active in California housing politics, and write about housing frequently in my Substack newsletter Where We Go From Here.

Contact me to talk ideas, or to talk about working together on housing policy, strategic partnerships and coalition building.


Both of my books deal extensively with housing.

Peer-reviewed publications 

2020 Deirdre Pfeiffer, Alex Schafran & Jake Wegmann. Vulnerability and opportunity: Making sense of the rise in single-family rentals in US neighbourhoods. Housing Studies, 1-21.

2019 Deirdre Pfeiffer, Jake Wegmann & Alex Schafran. Exploring the Relationship between Housing Downturns and Partisan Elections: Neighborhood-Level Evidence from Maricopa County, Arizona. Urban Affairs Review doi.org/10.1177/1078087418824748.

2016 Jake Wegmann, Alex Schafran, and Deirdre Pfeiffer. Breaking the Double Impasse: Securing and Supporting Diverse Housing Tenures in the United States. Housing Policy Debate, pp.1-24.

2013 Kathe Newman & Alex Schafran, Assessing the Foreclosure Crisis from the Ground Up, Housing Policy Debate, 23(1), pp. 1-4

2012 Alex Schafran. Origins of an Urban Crisis: The Restructuring of the San Francisco Bay Area and the Geography of Foreclosure, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 37(2), pp 663–88, 2013 BEST ARTICLE PRIZE

2012 Alex Schafran and Jake Wegmann. Restructuring, Race and Real Estate: Changing Home Values and the New California Metropolis, 1989-2010, Urban Geography, 33(5), pp. 630-654

2010 Elvin Wyly, Kathe Newman, Alex Schafran and Elizabeth Lee. Displacing New York, Environment and Planning A, 42(11), pp 2602–2623. ASHBY PRIZE WINNER

2009 Alex Schafran. Outside Endopolis: Notes from Contra Costa County,” Critical Planning, 16. SOJA PRIZE FOR CRITICAL THINKING IN URBAN AND REGIONAL RESEARCH.

Book Chapters, White Papers & Reports

2016 Desiree Fields, Rajkumar Kohli and Alex Schafran. The emerging geography of rental-backed securitization. San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Working Paper, 2016-02, January 2016

2013 Alex Schafran.  “The Politics of Accessory Dwelling Units in the United States.” Report for Project BIMBY (Build in my Backyard), sponsored by ANR Villes Durables.

Journalism and Essays

2019 Alex Schafran, with Steve King and Maeve Elise Brown, Housing Vulnerability  Analysis: A Discussion, Shelterforce, July 10, 2019

2017 Alex Schafran, Desiree Fields and Zac Taylor. Wall Street landlords are chasing the American dream – here’s what it means for families. The Conversation, 7 Sep., 2017

2016 Jake Wegmann and Alex Schafran. A New Perspective on Housing Tenure. Shelterforce, September 28, 2016

2011 Alex Schafran and Chris Schildt, How East Contra Costa County is Handling the Housing Crisis, Race, Poverty and the Environment, Urban Habitat, Oakland, Vol. 18, No. 2

2011 Alex Schafran. Scenes from Surrendered Homes. Places: Design Observer. July 18, 2011.

2004 Alex Schafran. City Planners Realize Windfalls for Developers and Oppose Inclusionary Zoning, Progressive Planning, Spring 2004.

Renting Single Family Homes

Do you know the fastest growing housing tenure in the United States? Renting single-family homes. More and more families, especially those with children, now live in the type of lower-density, often suburban houses we associate with homeownership. More children live in these types of homes than any other. These homes can be a great source…

What is housing tenure and why does it matter?

Housing tenure is an awkward name for something very important: tenure, in housing terms, are the legal and financial relationships you have with your home. It is the legal glue which keeps you housed, and determines what kinds of rights you have in different situations. We tend to think of housing tenure as renting v.…

Housing Vulnerability Analysis

Evictions. Foreclosures. Disasters. Rising taxes. Rising insurance costs. Unsafe conditions. Overcrowding. Sadly, there are many different ways in which people can lose their homes. In recent years, I have led a collaborative project with housing activists and academics which aims to develop a new means of assessing housing vulnerability, which can vary greatly from jurisdiction to…

The Road to Resegregation on KQED’s Forum

I was honored to spend an hour talking with Michael Krasny about my 2019 book, The Road to Resegregation. Listen to our conversation on KQED’s Forum.

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