James Stockard


Housing Is a Right, Not a Privilege

Ep. 54 - "It's time to ensure that no American has to worry about where they and their families will sleep tonight." James Stockard, referred to as Jim, feels affordable housing should be a right, not a privilege. He links the lack of affordable housing to social justice. He defines the inadequacy of affordable housing in the United States as directly tying into racial and class biases. Jim has been involved in housing on many levels. In 2019, he delivered a lecture in Glasgow for the UN Economic Commission for Europe conference on city living. He was also a visiting lecturer in Shanghai China. As a principal for over 25 years with the Cambridge-based consulting firm Stockard & Engler & Brigham, he has worked with nonprofit groups and public agencies across the country on such issues as affordable housing development, property management, neighborhood revitalization, and supportive service planning.  He has been involved in public housing take-overs and cost studies.

Top Takeaways:

    • The inadequacy of the US in funding affordable housing to her citizens due to the race and class biases
    • The value of fellowship programs in every professional field for people to get to know their careers and pause for a moment
    • The importance of young people rallying behind great courses and social justice issues with courage and strength
    • How decent housing saves the society from economic burdens and unwarranted frustrations and disarrays

Listen in to hear Jim explain how biases against low-income people and people of color have prevented them from getting decent affordable housing over the years.

"If all of our people have a decent place to live at a price they could afford, our society would be so much better off." -James Stockard

For many years he was curator of The Loeb Fellowship, Harvard Graduate School of Design that brings 10 mid-career professionals concerned with the built and natural environment to Harvard for a year of independent study.

Jim served as the court-appointed special master for the Department of Public and Assisted Housing in Washington, DC. He has taught courses on housing policy at MIT's School of Architecture, Tufts University and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is the co-author of Managing Affordable Housing, and wrote the epilogue in New Directions in Uban Public Housing. He was the principal investigator for the Public Housing Operating Cost Study commissioned by the US Congress.

Jim has served as a commissioner of the Cambridge Housing Authority for 30 years (including 6 terms as chair), and is a founding trustee of the Cambridge Affordable Housing Trust Fund. He is a past president of the Citizens Housing and Planning Association, Massachusetts' largest research and advocacy group for housing and community development issues.

You will learn how you as a young person can work towards bringing the much-needed change by participating and fighting for worthy social justice issues.

Key Moments

Jim defines himself not as an academic but rather a practitioner who speaks and teaches through his lived experience in his long career in housing. [2:38]

Why Jim describes the US as inadequate and behind other nations in providing homes to her citizens [4:16]

How the US housing sector has been inadequate, complicated, and failed to innovate in the last fifty years to make the needed progress [5:00]

How historical biases against low-income people and people of color work against them when it comes to affordable housing [7:14]

Why we needed to allow housing authorities and nonprofit organizations together with local people to use their creativity and capacity to develop what works better for their communities [8:34]

The importance of the tax credit program and any other housing programs and why they should be funded generously [12:40]

He narrates some of his greatest successes in the housing and community development sector which includes serving the Washington DC housing authority as a special master [14:19]

Jim explains how he failed to explain in better terms the public housing cost study to the housing authority and still considers it one of the major challenges of his career [18:22]

He talks about the housing fellowship program he led at Harvard- the achievements and the challenges [22:49]

How Jim has enjoyed teaching over the years and the delight he feels when his students contribute to bettering the housing sector while doing better than him [27:24]

Jim urges young people to fight for important social justice issues without quitting even when forces work against them [31:20]

Jim explains his frustrations over his inability to explain to a wide range of people the importance of decent living situations for all people [34:19]


Harvard Graduate School of Design: James Stockard

Harvard Faculty


LinkedIn James Stockard

Harvard Expert: Best City Planning and Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing: It's Just (A) Right

The Importance of Impossible Dreams

The Loeb Fellowship

Housing and Urbanization in the United States

Starting from Zero at Black Mountain and Harvard

Opening the Gates of Opportunity: Gateway Cities

From the City to the Object


James Loewen

Mark Willis

David Stevens

YouTube Video

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