241322 Data-driven organizing for community health: The Homewood Children's Village property assessment project

Monday, October 31, 2011: 8:50 AM

Samantha Teixeira, MSW , School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
John Wallace, PhD , School of Social Work, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Research reveals that vacant and abandoned properties threaten children's physical and mental health. This study used a partnership approach to assess the condition and occupancy of properties in a disadvantaged Pittsburgh, PA neighborhood and mobilized residents to use data to address the most problematic properties. As part of the Homewood Children's Village (HCV), a comprehensive community initiative modeled after the acclaimed Harlem Children's Zone, this project addressed the physical context in which children live thus improving safety and health, particularly on the routes that children frequently travel. We systematically assessed the condition of 1509 properties surrounding Homewood's public schools. Based upon the assessment, we developed a list of properties that posed the greatest potential harm to youth, as measured by being vacant and open to entry and in extremely poor condition. Residents were given the list and trained to contact the Mayor's office. The city's responses to the 311 calls were tracked over 30-days and before and after photos were taken of each property. By the second assessment, 30 days after the initial assessment, 23 of the 30 target properties had been boarded and one was torn down, thus conditions of 77% (n=23) of the homes were improved. This paper will address key factors that contributed to the success of this initiative and implications for future research. We will demonstrate a community-based participatory research approach that can be used to initiate a replicable data-driven community organizing effort to improve safety and neighborhood physical conditions for children.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify ways in which the physical environment of neighborhoods affects childrenís physical and mental health. 2. Describe the process of engaging community partners through the use of data and a manageable action plan. 3. Discuss the concept of data driven organizing as a tool for community based participatory research.

Keywords: Community Capacity, Community-Based Partnership

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have earned a Masterís degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. As a researcher for the University of Pittsburgh I have studied youth violence prevention programs in Allegheny County and how housing and neighborhood conditions affect children. My practice experience includes several years as a child protective service worker as well as work in community development and local government.
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.