past event
Family Finances

The State of Housing: Will Cancelling Rent and Halting Evictions Lead to Recovery?

In January, the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program published a paper outlining the housing affordability and stability crisis that approximately 100 million Americans faced. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans are now facing the most acute jobs crisis since the Great Depression. As a result, millions of us are suddenly unable to make rent or mortgage payments.

There is hope. Policymakers, businesses, and non-profits are prioritizing this issue like never before — and we can implement solutions that will put our communities on a path build a stronger system of affordable, high-quality housing across the country.

Attendees learned:

  • Why the housing crisis affects more than just the coasts – and who is struggling the most in particular communities
  • What past economic recessions and housing crises can teach us about effective approaches today
  • What tools policymakers and community leaders have in building high-quality, stable, and accessible housing across America

Sign up to receive Aspen FSP’s housing updates, and check out our housing research.


Secretary Julián Castro
Former US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Julián Castro served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. Before that, he was Mayor of his native city San Antonio, Texas — the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city at the time. In 2012 he gave a rousing keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, during which he described the American Dream as a relay to be passed from generation to generation. In 2019, Secretary Castro launched a campaign for president grounded in the belief that every American should count and that Washington should put people—not big, special interests—first. 

Conor Dougherty
Author, Golden Gates: Fighting for Housing in America; economics reporter at The New York Times 

Conor Dougherty is an economics reporter at The New York Times. He previously spent a decade in New York covering housing and the economy for The Wall Street Journal. He grew up in the Bay Area and lives with his family in Oakland. GOLDEN GATES is his first book.

Katherine Lucas McKay
Senior Program Manager, the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, @AspenFSP

Katherine Lucas McKay is a Senior Program Manager at the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program (FSP), leading the Expanding Prosperity Impact Collaborative (EPIC). Katherine is an experienced policy researcher and advocate in the fields of economic inequality and financial inclusion, and has worked on issues including consumer debt, student loans, foreclosure prevention, mortgage lending, retirement savings, credit reporting, and safety net policies. Prior to joining FSP, Katherine was the Associate Director of Government Affairs at Prosperity Now (then Corporation for Enterprise Development), where she led the organization’s policy work on homeownership, entrepreneurship, and consumer financial protection. She has also held positions at the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and Georgetown University. Katherine holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz School of Public Policy and Information Systems and a BA from Wellesley College.


Alanna McCargo
Vice President, Housing Finance Policy Center, Urban Institute, @urbaninstitute

Alanna McCargo is vice president for housing finance policy at the Urban Institute, where she focuses on management, development, and strategy for the Housing Finance Policy Center, including the cultivation of innovative partnerships within Urban and with external stakeholders.

McCargo has over 20 years of experience in housing finance, policy, and financial services. She has worked in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors on programs, policies, and research to improve access to housing and mortgage finance. Before joining Urban, McCargo was head of CoreLogic Government Solutions, working with federal and state government agencies, regulators, government-sponsored enterprises, think tanks, and universities to deliver custom data, analytics, and technology solutions to support housing and consumer policy research. Previously, McCargo held leadership roles with Chase and Fannie Mae, managing portfolios, policy efforts, and mortgage servicing transformation and alignment. From 2008 to 2011, she was an agent of the US Treasury Department on housing programs, such as Making Home Affordable and Hardest Hit Funds, working with industry stakeholders on the recovery.

McCargo serves on nonprofit boards and committees, focusing on her passion for helping underserved populations with financial literacy, economic stability, and housing security. She works with Doorways for Women and Families, Women in Housing and Finance, and DC Habitat for Humanity.

McCargo has a BA in communications from the University of Houston, an MBA from the University of Maryland, and an executive certificate in nonprofit management from Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

Ida Rademacher
Vice President, the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program @AspenFSP

Ida Rademacher is Vice President at the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Aspen
Institute Financial Security Program, a leading national voice on Americans’ financial health. Ida combines her expertise in economic inclusion research and policy with her reputation as a collaborative and creative thinker to raise up a national conversation and solutions set around financial inequality and financial instability. Ida and her team are building a cross-disciplinary community of leaders and change agents who, together, are deeply probing critical financial challenges facing U.S. households and shaping market and policy innovations that can improve the financial security and well-being of all Americans. Prior to leading the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program, Ida was Chief Program Officer at Prosperity Now (formerly CFED), where she created the multi-institutional team that led the CFPB’s Consumer Financial Well-Being Metrics Project, and also led the creation of Upside Down, a program examining ways the U.S. income tax code generates disparate wealth-building opportunities and contributes to growing levels of wealth inequality. Earlier in her career Ida led research and evaluation projects at the Aspen Economic Opportunities Program and the Center for Behavioral and Evaluation Research at the Academy for Educational Development.


Sarah Yaussi
Vice President of Business Strategy, National Multifamily Housing Council, @ApartmentWire

Sarah Yaussi is vice president of business strategy at the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) in Washington, D.C. An award-winning business communications specialist, content creator and thought leader, Sarah has extensive experience covering business, technology and market trends for the rental and for-sale housing industries.  

In her current role, she manages NMHC’s business information and marketing strategy across print, digital, interactive and event platforms, as well as a number of strategic industry partnerships. Major project work includes the NMHC Rent Payment Tracker, the annual NMHC 50 rankings, biennial NMHC/Kingsley Associates Renter Preferences SurveyNMHC’s Disruption report and 

Prior to joining NMHC in 2011, Sarah served as editor of Big Builder magazine, a Hanley Wood publication for executives at the largest public and private home builders. Sarah holds a B.A. in English from Colgate University and a Masters in Journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

Barry Zigas, @zigassoc
Senior Fellow, Consumer Federation of America, @ConsumerFed

Barry Zigas is a Senior Fellow at Consumer Federation of America and earlier served as its Director of Housing Policy 2008-2019. He also consults with housing and community development nonprofits and foundations on strategy, innovation and leadership through his firm Zigas and Associates LLC. 

Zigas was Senior Vice President for Community Lending at Fannie Mae from 1995-2006, where he led the company’s single family community lending initiatives, as well as corporate and regulatory reporting on the company’s housing goals, investments in CDFIs, and support for homeownership counseling and education. He joined Fannie Mae in 1993 as Vice President for Housing Impact. 

Zigas served as President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition from 1984-1993 and as Associate Executive Director of the US Conference of Mayors from 1976-1984. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Grinnell College and a 1997 graduate of the Wharton School’s Advanced Management Program. 

Zigas is a member of the National Housing Conference Board of Trustees and has previously served on the boards of Mercy Housing Inc, Low Income Investment Fund, Enterprise Community Partners, National Housing Trust and the Avalon Theater Project. He serves on the consumer advisory councils for Bank of America, Ocwen Financial, Quicken, Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers Association and Chase. He was appointed as member of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission in December, 2011, and previously served on the Rouse-Maxwell Task Force and the Mitchell-Danforth Task Force in the 1980’s. His articles and commentary have appeared in American Prospect, American Banker, Washingtonian, and other publications, and he is frequently quoted in print and electronic media. 


What you Need to Know

Strong Foundations: Financial Security Starts with Affordable, Stable Housing

Kansas City Mayor Lucas and NPR’s Stacey Vanek Smith discuss local solutions in housing

A Glimpse into the Eviction Crisis: Why Housing Stability Deserves Greater Attention

The Aspen Institute Financial Security Program thanks the Metlife Foundation, The Prudential Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, for their generous support.

Learn more

This event is part of the Conversations in Financial Security in Response to COVID-19: How to Triage, Recover, and Stabilize series, an ongoing digital event series hosted by the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program that works to triage the immediate effects of the current pandemic, design solutions allowing households to recover, and address the structural challenges to stabilize financial security at the household level.

Event information
Wed May 6, 2020
1:00pm - 2:00pm EDT