Urban Studies Assistant Professor Anaid Yerena was featured in the Whole U's Faculty Friday Spotlight.
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"Anaid Yerena’s textbook is out of date. But the assistant professor at University of Washington Tacoma’s School of Urban Studies wouldn’t have it otherwise. Yerena teaches the course “Housing in America” and the text in question, Introduction to Housing, was last published in 2006.
“I need you to be reading this book within the context of the fact it was published prior to 2008,” she says. “Which, in housing, is an important moment.”
The out-of-print edition is intended to provide students a historiographical context for the period leading up to the 2008 housing crisis and is complemented by readings from an up-to-date course book on US housing policy.
“Look—this is what we thought,” Yerena says of how she helps students approach the text. “We made many mistakes and were moving confidently forward. Looking back at something and realizing you were doing it wrong is easy. Figuring out that you’re doing something wrong while you’re doing it is a lot harder.”
By introducing undergraduates to essential terminology and the basic tenets of US housing policy, Yerena’s course aims to inform students’ own notions of home ownership—empowering them with practical knowledge to be better advocates for themselves and others.
“This is knowledge that students might want to discuss with their friends or their parents,” Yerena says. “I wanted this course to be a gateway for any of our students who have never thought about what it means to own or rent to learn about it in a low-stakes context.”
She starts each quarter by asking students their reasons and motivations the last time they moved.
“Sometimes when you’re thinking in broader terms of housing policy, you start thinking about numbers,” she says. “I make a point in the course to show that everybody has a story.”
THE ARCHITECT AND A MASTER PLAN
Yerena’s own story began in Mexico. Born in Mexico City, she lived there for only a couple of years before the deadly 1985 earthquake prompted her family to relocate to Chihuahua. Just as she’d learned to read and write in Spanish, her family moved once again—this time to California, where her father joined a brother working in construction.
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