Source: UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA submitted to
UTILIZATION OF COMMUNITY SOCIAL CAPITAL TO ADDRESS HOUSING NEEDS
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
NEW
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Annual
Accession No.
1005222
Grant No.
2015-68006-22846
Project No.
GEOW-2014-05602
Proposal No.
2014-05602
Multistate No.
(N/A)
Program Code
A1631
Project Start Date
Jan 15, 2015
Project End Date
Jan 14, 2020
Grant Year
2015
Project Director
Skobba, K. R.
Recipient Organization
UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA
200 D.W. BROOKS DR
ATHENS,GA 30602-5016
Performing Department
Fin Plan Housing Consumer Econ
Non Technical Summary
The narrative of rural and small-town communities in the U.S. is one of decline, disadvantage and distress (Isserman, Feser & Warren, 2009). While a small portion of rural counties are faring better than the nation as a whole, many more face serious challenges of economic distress and poor housing conditions (Housing Assistance Council, 2012a; Isserman et al., 2009). Rural communities often lack the capacity to respond to problems of housing quality, availability and affordability (Morton et al., 2004; Ziebarth et al., 1997). We know that social capital places rural communities in a stronger position to address of problems, take advantage of new opportunities and confront poverty (Woolcock & Narayan, 2000). However, more research is needed to understand the link between different types of rural and small town communities and the role of capacity-building initiatives in generating different types of social capital. The project will integrate research, education and extension in four related components: 1) a comprehensive survey of small town and rural municipalities, 2) case studies including social network mapping for 20 communities, 3) the development of a community research and mapping program and 4) a program that integrates the findings of the research into curriculum for the Georgia Initiatives for Community Housing program and Extension professionals in Georgia and neighboring states. Using the results of the research, this project will provide education materials and technical assistance to help communities in the Southeast region build upon and strengthen their social capital to address community housing and neighborhood revitalization needs.
Animal Health Component
34%
Research Effort Categories
Basic
33%
Applied
34%
Developmental
33%
Classification

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
6086050206075%
8056099303025%
Goals / Objectives
The purpose of this integrated research, education and extension project is to develop an increased understanding of the housing and neighborhood revitalization issues facing Georgia's rural and small town communities. Using the results of the proposed research, this project will provide education materials and technical assistance to help communities build upon and strengthen their social capital to address community housing and neighborhood revitalization needs. The long-term goals of this project are to:Understand how capacity building interventions affect community capacity to address housing and neighborhood revitalization issues in the rural South.Provide improved technical assistance, increased public awareness and policy solutions through the integration of research, education and extension activitiesOur supporting objectives include:Conduct an assessment of housing and neighborhood challenges and community-level social capital data for 353 small and non-metropolitan municipalities in Georgia.Map social networks utilized to addressing community housing issues and other community problems for 20 municipalities; document change in size and diversity as a result of capacity building interventions, including participatory planning.Use research findings to develop program curriculum for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH), FHCE/UGA Extension and an undergraduate Housing and Development courseDevelop a sustainable community research and mapping resource at the University of Georgia for small cities, towns and rural communities in Georgia.
Project Methods
Survey methodology:The survey will be an online survey initiated through a personalized email message. The survey process will follow the Dillman method, which includes repeated personal contacts to enhance the response rate.The survey tool will gather the following categories of information from each municipalityAssessment of housing adequacy, availability, appropriateness and affordabilityTools, resources and programs available to address housing problems in the communityIndicators of linking and vertical of community social capitalCommunity characteristics and economic developmentThe questions of interest for this analysis include:Social capital: Do measures of social capital vary by community type?Housing conditions: Do measures of housing problems vary by community type?Housing conditions x Social capital interaction: Do housing conditions vary by social capital?The researchers will work together to interpret the survey findings. In preparing a report of the survey results, the researchers will also receive feedback from the stakeholder advisory group. .Community case studiesThe community case studies will draw upon data collected from members of the community through two processes - 1) an analysis of social networks before and after taking part in the capacity building program and 2) participatory GIS mapping.Social network analysisSocial network data will be collected through a qualitative interview process in which participants will discuss their engagement in local housing and community development issues. The process will use a snowball technique, which will begin with known active participants. Participants will work with the researcher to identify the people with whom they communicate with regarding local housing and community development issues, the role of each person in their network and the strength of their ties. Each person interviewed will refer the researchers to others who might agree to be interviewed. The process will continue until each network has achieved saturation. The social networks will be analyzed for the number of participants, the strength of the ties, concentration of network actors, degree of clustering and heterogeneity/homogeneity of network actors (Wasserman and Faust, 1994). The analysis of networks will be used to identify the presence of different types of social capital - bonding, bridging, linking and vertical.This process will be repeated again three years later. The social networks for each community will be analyzed for changes before and after program participation, or in the case of the comparison communities, a change over time. Networks will be mapped using Gephi, a free, open-source exploratory data tool used specifically for network analysis and representation.Participatory GISIn this project, we will use PPGIS with community stakeholders to generate directions for community development. In initial interviews with community members, we will ask them to identify existing assets and areas in need of redevelopment on maps of the area. We will aggregate these responses and map their locations using ESRI's ArcGIS software. These maps will highlight similarities and contradictions between stakeholders' perception of their communities, and the reasons for any differences between responses will be discussed at community meetings with the goal of creating stronger consensus on existing assets and priorities for future development. Broader barriers facing communities, such as shifts in the agricultural economy, may also be identified through these conversations. While this may be a contentious process, by clarifying the ways existing community members and organizations see their towns, it strengthens understanding of common ground among different groups and literally maps out existing community assets and needs.In addition, community meetings will be used to identify data useful to the community, such as changes in population patterns over time or existing housing patterns (e.g., rental/owned properties, abandoned property, environmental hazards). Community groups and the researchers will then collaborate to collect this data, which can be made accessible both through printed maps and publication on ESRI's ArcGIS online mapping service, both of which allow for further community comments. This data can then be updated at the conclusion of the project, allowing for both stakeholders and researchers to evaluate the success of this intervention. These data may be useful to highlight existing assets within the community to lure new businesses, to advocate for changes to policies adversely affecting the community, or to apply for redevelopment funds available at the state or national level.Integrated Education and Extension Components Extension The team will train county and community based Extension professionals in the social capital mapping process and facilitation of critical discourse, which will include an iterative process of reflection analysis and action. To continue to be relevant Extension must create spaces for people to be heard and to hear what they recognize as their communities most compelling issues and strengths, and to insure that their issues are the ones driving the work of Extension.EducationGeorgia Initiative for Community HousingThe findings from the research will be used to provide improved education and outreach through the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. The findings from the research will be brought back to the study communities, best practices/lessons learned will be incorporated into the GICH program so that future participating communities will benefit from the knowledge. Ultimately, we see the results of the integrated project will be used as a guide that will help community development professionals in other states, particularly in the Southeast and Midwest, to develop a model similar to the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing.Community mapping and research programStart-up funds for a community-based mapping and research program (which would be part of the Housing and Demographic Research Center). This program will serve small cities, towns and rural communities in Georgia. The program will support undergraduate students through a fellowship. Students will learn about the small town and rural communities while developing basic mapping and research skills that benefit the project communities. The communities will be provided with information that will help them to make more informed decisions.Project Evaluation PlanThe project team will use the plan of activities and outcomes identified in this proposal as a guide. Results of the project will be analyzed in two ways. We will conduct a process evaluation of the project implementation and an outcome evaluation to determine if short, medium and long-term outcomes were achieved. At the beginning of the project, the principal investigator will develop a project management plan that will include all project activities, deliverables and anticipated outcomes. Progress towards these activities will be monitored and reviewed at the bi-weekly project team meetings. Prior to advisory stakeholder group meetings, the PI will prepare a progress report that will track deliverables and outcomes measured during the previous six months. This report will be reviewed and discussed at the advisory meetings. The results of this project will be disseminated through three primary documents: 1) A comprehensive report of survey and case study findings; 2) A report on the GICH program model, which is designed to serve as a guide for those interested in program replication and 3) a summary of findings and recommendations based on the Extension program activities. The project team will foster awareness of these reports and other tools and resources developed through this grant through our website, social media and presentations at professional and industry conferences and meetings.

Progress 01/15/16 to 01/14/17

Outputs
Target Audience: Local government staff and elected officials of non-metropolitan communities in Georgia (through case study research, service-learning project and undergraduate community development fellowships Stakeholders in non-metropolitan housing and community development (case study research, preliminary research findings and presentations) Five communities participating in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing 35Undergraduate students enrolled in FHCE 4340S: Housing & Community Development at the University of Georgia 2 graduate students (through research assistantships) 3 undergraduate students (through undergraduate community development fellowships) Changes/Problems:This is a grant project with many moving parts. In the past year, the implementation of some aspects of the project (launching the undergraduate fellows program, the housing survey conditions tool and web-application, social capital data collection, database development of survey data) took precedence and time and thus while a great amount of progress was made in these areas, it sometimes came at the expense of progress in analysis of data and writing up of research findings. The focus this year will be on in-depth analysis of the data we have collected, case study development and dissemination of our research to academic communities and our communities of interest. The second issue is that it has taken longer to establish connections with Extension professionals in Georgia. This lack of connection slowed our progress in disseminating results. In 2016, we began working closely with Debbie Murray, the Associate Dean of Extension and Outreach in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Georgia, and Andrea Scarrow,District Program Development Coordinator, FACS. Southwest District in Georgia. Working with Dr. Murray and Ms. Scarrow led to near immediate results. We developed andproposed a training session on social capital, which was accepted and will be given in February 2017. We look forward to continuing this partnership and expanding our network within Extension in Georga. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Researchers have worked one on one with members of the housing teams in each communities to help those teams be able to access and use the results of their data collection. Two undergraduate research assistants have assisted in developing the housing assessment applications and in collecting related secondary data for the communities. This has improved their ability to collect data and present it in a publically accessible way. In late 2016, we began developing a training for Extension professionals that will be launched in 2017. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest?Preliminary project findings and potential policy implications were presented at the 2016 Fall Affordable Housing Conference of the Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. (Georgia ACT), a statewide membership organization of nonprofit housing and community development organizations. In addition to academic presentations, prelimary findings of this research project have been disseminated to members of the Housing and Demographic Research Center, which serves as an advisory board for the project. Both housing conditions assessment applications have been presented to state level stakeholders who may have broader use for this technology, including the Department of Community Affairs, Habitat for Humanity, and the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. The housing assessment tools and process are now a part of the curriculum of the GICH program, and both technical details and best practices are being presented at the bi-annual retreats. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? Develop and submit 3 conference papers to peer-reviewed research journals in the fields of housing policy, community development and rural sociology. Develop 3 research and policy briefs based on the survey and disseminate these briefs through a newsletter article through Georgia Municipal Association and at conventions, conferences, and meetings of our communities of interest, including Extension professionals. Develop a webinar or presentation about the research and policy brief findings forthe Georgia Initiative for Community Housingcommunities Present training on social capital to Extension professionals. Identify other audiences for this training. Develop article for the Journal of Extension based on the social network and social capital work conducted through the grant.

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? We have conducted research and developed preliminary findings using the results of the survey data collected in late 2015-early 2016. We refined the social network data collection process and collected data on five communities participating in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing program. We conducted prelimary analysis of this data in 2016. We launched the undergraduate housing and community development fellowship program. Terrence Curry, one of our first Housing and Community Development Fellows, worked on a project in the small town of Vienna, Georgia where he assisted with the development of an inventory of infill properties available for and marketing ideas to increase development. The project was expanded to include a full housing survey of every single family home in Vienna. Another fellow, Alyssa Harris, worked with the City of Valdosta, Georgia, to develop and implement and workforce housing survey. The results of these first undergraduate fellows has generated interest in the program from additional funders.In addition to meeting out goals of integrating research and education activities and developing an increased understanding of housing and neighborhood revitalization issues facing Georgia's rural and small town communities, this workfurthers our goals of developing a sustainable community research and mapping resource at UGA for small cities, towns and rural communities in Georgia. We have developed a mobile app for data collection that has been used by five different GICH communities in their housing assessment. This app allows communities to collect data digitally in the field, linking observations up with existing parcel data. It also allows communities to collect photos of affected properties. This supports our goal of improving technical assistance to communities in their housing assessment and will be an ongoing mapping resource for these and future communities. We have also created a web based application for analysis of the housing data that communities have collected. In this application, communities can identify properties with the greatest number of housing issues or study the geographic distribution of specific issues. We have also loaded selected demographic data from the U.S. Census so communities can contextualize the findings from their housing assessment. Similar to above, this provides technical and logistical support for communities and will be an ongoing resource.

Publications

  • Type: Book Chapters Status: Awaiting Publication Year Published: 2017 Citation: Skobba, K., Odeyemi, E. & Tinsley, K. (in-press) Meeting rural housing needs through local community development. Chapter 13 in Rural Housing and Economic Development. National Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Center. Routledge.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Skobba, K., Tinsley, K. (2016). Leveraging local capacity to meet housing needs in rural and small towns. 79th Annual Meeting of the Rural Sociological Society.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Osinubi, A., Skobba, K. & Tinsley, K. (2016) Neighborhood blight and housing conditions in rural and small communities. Proceedings of the 2016 Annual Conference of the Housing Education and Research Association, (pp.40-41).
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Shannon, J., Skobba, K., Tinsley, K., & Osinubi, A.(2016) Mapping small cities in the age of big data: Participatory GIS approaches to housing in Georgia. Urban Affairs Association 46th Annual Conference.
  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Published Year Published: 2016 Citation: Skobba, K., Tinsley, K., Odeyemi, E., & Shannon, J.(2016). Addressing local housing and neighborhood issues: Who is at the table?. Urban Affairs Association 46th Annual Conference.


Progress 01/15/15 to 01/14/16

Outputs
Target Audience: Local government staff and elected officials of non-metropolitan communities in Georgia (through survey research) Stakeholders in non-metropolitan housing and community development (survey development, implementation, case study work) Five communities participating in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing 50 Undergraduate students enrolled in FHCE 4340S: Housing & Community Development at the University of Georgia 2 graduate students (through research assistantships) 1 undergraduate student (through undergraduate research assistantship) Changes/Problems: We adjusted the timeline of the grant from the original proposal (beginning in January 2015, rather than October 2014) so that they aligned with the processing of grant funds by UGA and the grant report timeline. As previously noted, we used the first year as pilot year for the social network data collection to test the process and allow for an earlier introduction to the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing participants on this aspect of the research. As several communities were unsure how to make use of mini grant money, we are revising the process by which these funds are made available to them. Since we are developing a standard list of GIS based tools, we can also provide communities with ideas about technologies that may facilitate their use of these tools (e.g., tablets or software for analysis). Should communities be interested in a particular form of analysis, we can help support their use of GIS using this one time mini-grant money. This provides scaffolding for communities' use of GIS, as our initial process asked them to come up with ideas for how to use the grant funds. Many communities struggled with that process. There have been many positive, unexpected outcomes from this grant that are hard to describe and do not necessarily fit into the reporting categories. The integrated nature of the grant has resulted in newand enhanced partnerships with other units at UGA (for example, a service-learning partnership with faculty in the College of Environment and Design), and communication and information-sharing with USDA Rural Development staff, Enterprise Community Partners and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. One of our objectives is to develop a sustainable community research and mapping resource at UGA. This objective has led to improvements in the structure and activity of the Housing Demographic Research Center at UGA. We anticipate that these changes, which were stimulated by the grant objectives, will lead to 1) increased external funding from private and foundation donors that will increase our capacity to carry out this work beyond the grant period and 2) additional cross-UGA and cross-organizational partnerships. What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? Kim Skobba and Karen Tinsley received GIS training in 2015, which will lead to improved technical assistance to both communities and students through the integration of research and education activities. Researchers and studentresearch assistants have gained expertise in how to develop and utilize mobile data collection tools, such as Open Data Kit. This has included learning how to set up servers to work with this software and the various methods by which data can be entered into the system. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? The majority of the research activities in the first year of the grant included data collection and thus we did not have many results to disseminate to communities of interest. However, we did present a literature review titled, "Housing challenges across the rural-urban continuum: A review of the literature and implications for policy and practice" for this research at the Housing Education and Research Association conference in October 2015. We submitted a proposal for and are currently completing a book chapter related to this research titled "Meeting rural housing needs through local community development " for a book on Rural Housing and Economic Development through the National Agriculture and Rural Development Policy Center. We will be disseminating the preliminary findings of the social network analysis to the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing team members at their first retreat in February, 2016. We will also share preliminary results with comparison communities in late spring. Within GICH, we now have a stock of possible GIS based tools that we can offer to future GICH communities. We will continue to develop these in future years, but having a list of options makes it easier for future communities to implement GIS during their participation in GICH. We are presenting at the Urban Affairs Conference in San Diego in March 2016, describing the interventions we have worked on with existing GICH communities as well as survey results from small cities (RU Code 3) on social capital and housing planning. In early February we are submitting an abstract on research from this grant to the Rural Sociology Conference. If accepted, we will write and submit a paper to the Rural Sociology journal. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals?Research/Academic During the next year of the grant, we will complete the survey database and begin conducting analyses of this data. We plan to write and submit two papers from this survey data and will present the findings of this data at academic conferences (Rural Sociology andHousing Education and Research Association) and to different stakeholder groups in Georgia. We will complete the social network analysis data collection and conduct preliminary analyses for 10 of the 20 municipalities. We anticipate writing a paper from this first round of data collection and presenting the findings at one or more conferences. We will continue to develop the GIS tools we can offer to communities. Specifically, we hope to make more use of ESRI's Story Map tool, which allows communities to tell the story of their housing revitalization efforts to various stakeholders. We also plan to conduct more sophisticated demographic projections and calculate housing affordability for one GICH community, developing a process that can be replicated in future years. Undergraduate education We are integrating a mapping component into FHCE 4340S: Housing & Community Development to enhance student learning. These skills will be applied in a service-learning project they are completing for Gainesville, GA. Support the work of two undergraduate fellows on projects that benefit non-metro communities. Extension June 2016 Webinar to present the survey findings and implications to for UGA Extension for County Extension Directors. June 2016 or 2017 Present to Extension Professional Meetings - state and national (involve agents in the national presentations) NACDEP, PILD and NEAFCS - this will depend on where we are on the research. Summer or Fall 2016 Approach and set up a call with SRDC about project and conducting a regional webinar through their network this will take the June 2016 UGA webinar to all states in Southern region. Train-the-Trainer or community training for Georgia at the next Extension Conference that coincides with the next statewide Extension Conference held at Rock Eagle (2017 0r 2018). Share findings of the research and how the research is translated into training curriculum for use by Extension do this at the Southern Regional Program Leaders Conference (these are attended by Deans, Extension Program Leaders in the Southern Region). Publish in Journal of Extension (this will get the project findings out to all of Extension professionals).

Impacts
What was accomplished under these goals? Goal: Understand how capacity building interventions affect community capacity to address housing and neighborhood revitalizations in the rural South. Objective: Survey assessment of housing and neighborhood challenges and community-level social capital for 353 small and non-metropolitan communities. We implemented a survey between September and November 2015 to all municipalities in rural-urban continuum counties 3-9. Prior to implementation, we received feedback from our stakeholder group as well as staff at the Georgia Municipal Association and the state office of USDA located in Athens. The Georgia Municipal Association provided the database, publicized the survey and encouraged local staff and elected officials receiving the survey to complete it. We began with a web-based survey with individual codes for each recipient. We sent multiple reminder messages. At the end of six weeks, we had received approximately 200 completed survey responses (this includes communities for which more than one survey was completed. The mayor and city clerk for each of the non-responding communities were sent a paper copy. This process yielded 84 additional completed surveys. We are in the process of evaluating the responses to determine how many communities are represented in the survey. We estimate the per-community response rate at 70% of non-metropolitan communities in Georgia. Objective: Map social networks utilized to address community housing issues and other community problems for 20 municipalities. Document change in size and diversity as a result of capacity building interviews, particularly participatory planning. We pilot-tested the social network questions and process in the spring and summer of 2015 with 5 communities participating in the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing. We made several changes as a result of this pilot-test. First, we adapted the set of questions after learning that they were too specific and were difficult for GICH team members with little housing experience (for example, representatives from school districts or faith-based communities) to answer. We have revised the set of questions and protocols in a way that is yielding data that will be more useful in reaching our objectives and goals. The use of year 1 as a pilot phase also allowed us to inform communities during the application process (September-October, 2015) for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing and then administer the social network analysis during the orientation phase of the program (January, 2016).We have also developed a process for identifying comparison communities; data collection with the first five communities will be implemented in March 2016. Goal: Provide improved technical assistance, increased public awareness and policy solutions through the integration of research, education and extension activities: Objective: Use research findings to develop program curriculum for the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH), FHCE/UGA Extension and an undergraduate Housing and Development course We started the Undergraduate Housing and Community Development Fellowship in January 2016 and currently have two undergraduate students who will be working on projects in rural and small town communities in Georgia (Viennaand Valdosta, GA). This grant-funded activity, along with our GIS/community mapping work, have led to enhanced programming in the Housing and Demographic Research Center at the University of Georgia. We have developed multiple tools that aid small communities in data collection and analysis related to housing revitalization. We have developed a mobile data collection interface using the open source Open Data Kit software. This cuts down on labor intensive data entry, improves the accuracy of collected data, and allows for the collection of photographs along with the housing assessment survey items. Additionally, we are using ArcGIS online and ArcGIS collector to allow communities the option of accessing and updating parcel data remotely through Android or iOS based tablets. Both of these are in response to expressed needs from the GICH communities. Many communities had minimal access to geographic data on their housing stock. Working with the University of Georgia Information Technology Outreach Services (ITOS) and in collaboration with county governments, we have been able to provide local communities with parcel maps of their communities, which will be useful to identify patterns in substandard housing. Based on our interactions with communities during the first year of this grant, we have developed a GIS "menu" of options for communities, many of whom have not previously considered how mapping technology could aid their housing revitalization efforts. This provides ideas and resources for GICH teams to think more broadly about possible strategies for identifying housing needs within their communities.

Publications

  • Type: Conference Papers and Presentations Status: Accepted Year Published: 2015 Citation: Skobba, K. & Tinsley,K. (2015). Housing challenges across the rural-urban continuum: A review of the literature and implications for policy and practice. 2015 Annual Conference of the Housing Education and Research Association