225256 Staying connected: Examining strategic communication plans of organizations in the wake of client displacement

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kimberly A. Stringer, MA , KDH Research and Communication, Atlanta, GA
Holley A. Wilkin, PhD , Department of Communication, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Service organizations are often located in areas anchored by public housing complexes where the need for their services is immense. Increased proximity to services increases the chances that people in need of assistance can access it. Throughout the US, public housing structures are being demolished and replaced with mixed-income housing, leading to a displacement of their current residents. Organizations that lose clients due to relocations run the risk of losing the funding they get for serving that population. The current study examines how social service organizations have dealt with the relocation of public housing residents in Atlanta, GA. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with representatives of community health centers and job resource organizations located near public housing complexes that had been or were about to be demolished to answer the following questions: How do organizations react when current and future potential clients are relocated? Will the decentralization of people receiving assistance affect organizations' ability to get funding, grants, and donations? Did the organizations have a strategic communication plan to retain connections with clients during the relocation process? The results suggest that several factors influence the degree to which organizations actively address the potential loss of clients and reach out to residents during their transition. Organizations with the greatest stake in maintaining relationships with the residents had the most detailed strategic plans, while organizations that serve a larger portion of the population or receive their clients through referrals were least likely to have a strategic plan.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Program planning
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify factors that may shape an organizationís response to displacement of current and potential clients. List elements of a strategic communication plan that would allow an organization to stay connected to current and potential clients in the event of client displacement.

Keywords: Public Housing, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I completed this research in fulfillment of requirements for a master's degree in communication and now work in the field of health communication conducting research within vulnerable populations.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.