Announcing the Fall 2016/Spring 2017 CURS Scholar-in-Residence Opportunity

With support from the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts & Sciences, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) is pleased to solicit applications again for its Scholar-in-Residence Program. The CURS Scholar-in-Residence Program provides an opportunity for faculty members in the College of Arts & Sciences to concentrate on developing major research proposals by providing funds for a course buyout and for proposal development expenses. In addition, the CURS Scholar-in-Residence will have full administrative support from the Center’s financial and clerical support staff. This opportunity will be provided during either the fall semester 2016 or spring semester 2017 based on the candidate’s preference. Laura Lopez-Sanders from the Department of Sociology is the Spring 2016 Scholar-in-Residence. As a result, faculty members from that department are ineligible for the Fall 2016/Spring 2017 program. The complete details of the program and applications are available at http://curs.unc.edu/programs/scholar-in-residence-program/.

Applications are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, March 7, 2016. The candidates will be notified of the outcome of the selection process in mid March 2016. 

For further information or an application contact:
Todd Owen, Associate Director
Center for Urban and Regional Studies
Hickerson House; CB# 3410
Phone: (919) 962-3076   Fax: (919) 962-2518
towen@email.unc.edu

Center for Community Capital Awarded $1.05 million grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The UNC Center for Community Capital (CCC) has been awarded a $1.05 million grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to conduct three affordable housing and financial capability research and evaluation projects. These projects aim to help under-resourced communities become more vibrant and economically inclusive across the nation.

“We plan to provide a connection between researchers and experts and communities in different parts of the country, and [to] start a dialogue about what works and what doesn’t work in the area of enhancing opportunities, and the role that housing and financial capability have in that,” said Roberto Quercia, Director of CCC, who is co-directing the project with Lucy Gorham, Executive Director of CCC.

The projects include:

  1. CCC will serve as a research partner for three affordable housing organizations that are working to expand financial capability services to their affordable housing clients. The three partner organizations will be the Cleveland Housing Network (CHN), The Resurrection Project (Chicago), and the New York City Housing Authority in collaboration with the New York City Office of Financial Empowerment. CCC’s role will be to provide research and evaluation advisory services to help these organizations document the impact of integrating financial capability services into their affordable housing programs and to inform the larger financial capability and affordable housing fields about best practices and lessons learned from these innovative pilots.
  2. CCC will also research and write a white paper on the potential for financial technology to enhance the delivery and scaling of financial capability services and products to underserved consumers; and
  3. CCC will develop an Opportunity Assessment that JPMC might use in any of its funding sites. The Opportunity Assessment would utilize a two-fold approach: first, the creation of a data-driven index of place-based opportunity that will provide JPMC and its community partners with an important tool with which to assess and refine community development and investment strategies; and second, the use of community-level research that will help residents and community organizations define and take ownership of the vibrancy and well-being of their immediate and broader neighborhoods. The Opportunity Assessment has housing at its center, since the home is the site where residents and opportunity meet. Central to the analysis is one driving question: how can housing be leveraged to promote household and community prosperity?

CURS releases “Boulevard Homes Final Report: Changing Communities, Transforming Lives”

Changing Communities, Transforming Lives CoverThe Center for Urban & Regional Studies has released the Boulevard Homes Final Report: Changing Communities, Transforming Lives. Short for “Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere,” the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOPE VI program funded the demolition and redevelopment of distressed public housing developments throughout the country. Between 1994 and 2010, over 250 public housing developments were redeveloped with support from the HOPE VI program. The Charlotte Housing Authority received a total of five HOPE VI grants during this time.

The most recent HOPE VI grant awarded to the CHA was for the razing and redevelopment of Boulevard Homes, which was physically obsolescent and plagued with crime. The newly constructed development—called the Renaissance—includes 274 apartments reserved for low-income families and 60 market rate units. The Renaissance also includes a K-8 public school (currently under construction) and an early childhood development center that is in the planning stages. The Renaissance West Community Initiative, a non-profit initially funded by the CHA, is coordinating the educational and social services being provided in the development.

Over the past five years, CURS has been evaluating this redevelopment project, with a particular focus on the experience of those who were relocated from the original development. The CHA provided residents with case managers and supportive services while the Renaissance was under construction. These case managers helped residents set self-sufficiency goals, and connected families with services like job training, educational opportunities, and health care assistance.

Building on our previous evaluation reports, this final report provides an overview of the Boulevard Homes redevelopment process and its outcomes. It describes and assesses the redevelopment process, including the design of the new development, the relocation of former residents, the attitudes of the former residents toward the relocation process and outcomes, the supportive services offered to relocatees, and the redevelopment’s impacts on the surrounding neighborhood and much more.

Some of the key findings are that:

  • The CHA used the financial flexibility provided through the Moving to Work demonstration to shift over $14,000,000 into developing the Renaissance and additional off-site replacement housing. Additional CHA funding also allowed the authority to offer enhanced supportive services to the residents who were relocated from the original development.
  • A majority of former Boulevard Homes residents relocated to privately-owned apartments using Housing Choice Vouchers rather than moving to other CHA public housing developments. A large majority of the relocated residents were very satisfied with the relocation process, and with their new housing and neighborhoods. This, to some extent, explains the relatively small number of original tenants who moved back to the redeveloped site.
  • Over time, the intensity of case management services offered to residents decreased as the budget for those services became tight. The most commonly-accessed services for non-elderly residents were occupational training and childcare subsidies, while health care assistance was the most frequently used by for elderly households.
  • The work efforts of the relocated residents substantially increased during the redevelopment process. According to data collected by case managers, the percent of non-elderly/disabled residents working rose from 33% in October 2010, close to the beginning of the project, to 67% in June 2015, close to the end of the project.
  • While it is very early to assess the development’s impacts on the surrounding neighborhood, we note that the neighborhood surrounding the Renaissance has experienced a recent significant increase in home lending activity. In addition, CHA and developer staff believe that conditions are improving in the neighborhood, with a new police station and social service center slated to open nearby soon.

To read or download the full report, please click here.

CURS researchers publish “Innovation in US public housing: a critique of the Moving to Work demonstration”

Building on our report cataloging activities implemented by housing authorities participating in the Moving to Work demonstration (MTW), “Innovation in US public housing: a critique of the Moving to Work demonstration” summarizes both the policy context of Moving to Work and criticisms of the demonstration. It also sets an agenda for current debates about extending and expanding the program.

Enacted in 1996, MTW allows participating housing authorities two flexibilities. First, they may waive federal regulations, like how much to charge for rent. Second, they may combine various federal funding sources into a single, flexible fund. Currently, 39 housing authorities are participating in the program.

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Public Housing residents support smoking ban, according to CURS researchers

HUD is currently accepting comments on a proposed smoking ban in public housing. The new rule would extend a current ban that includes public areas and administrative offices to residents’ homes. In HUD’s press release, Secretary Castro stated that the smoking ban will “protect public housing residents from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.”

Earlier this year, the Center for Urban and Regional Studies asked Charlotte Housing Authority (CHA) public housing residents about their health, how often they smoke, and whether they would support a ban within public housing. These questions were part of a larger survey conducted for the CHA to evaluate its Moving Forward (Moving to Work) program. The survey of 519 residents found alarming rates of chronic diseases—such as asthma, hypertension and depression—and of daily smoking rates. Continue reading

CURS to help evaluate HUD’s Jobs Plus Pilot Program

The Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) has been selected as part of a team of researchers to evaluate the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Jobs Plus Pilot Program. CURS joins lead organization MDRC and partner organization National Initiative for Mixed-Income Communities at Case Western Reserve University to assess Job Plus as it is implemented in nine cities. Continue reading

White House Cites Ecological Restoration Research of CURS Faculty Fellows

ecological restoration

“Surface Elevation Table Installation” by NOAA’s National Ocean Service is licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

The White House cited the ecological restoration research of Todd BenDor and T. William Lester in a blog post last week called “Encouraging Private Investments in America’s Natural Resources.” The post was prompted by the signing of a Presidential Memorandum by President Obama to “accelerate restoration efforts and incentivize private investment in our land, water and wildlife.” Continue reading

CURS Public Housing Work Requirements Research Featured on NLIHC’s “Must Reads” List

October 5, 2015

Must-ReadsThe National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) placed a recently released Center for Urban and Regional Studies research report entitled Work Requirements in Public Housing: Impacts on Tenant Employment and Evictions on its “Must Reads” list today. NLICH also featured the research on its website.

The study is the first analysis of the impacts of a work requirement for residents in public housing developments. The research examines a work requirement implemented by the Charlotte Housing Authority (CHA) through its Moving to Work participation.

Click here more information on this research.

 

 

NAHRO Monitor Features Two CURS Public Housing Research Studies

September 30, 2015

NAHRO Monitor Sept 30 2015 coverThe NAHRO Monitor, a twice-monthly update sent to the 22,000 members of the The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, featured two CURS research studies in its recent issue. The front page article “Center for Urban and Regional Studies Publishes Report on Moving to Work” outlines the results CURS’ assessment of the Charlotte Housing Authority’s (CHA) efforts to implement the Moving to Work (MTW) program entitled Moving Forward (MF).

The Monitor also highlighted Work Requirements in Public Housing: Impacts on Tenant Employment and Evictions, a report released by the Center earlier this month evaluating the CHA’s work requirement policy, comparing the employment and eviction rates between those subject to the work requirement and a comparison group not subject to the policy.

Read the articles here.

Learn about the NAHRO Monitor and the work of NAHRO.

How the Reemergence of Manufacturing Can Benefit Historic Small Towns: A Mississippi Case Study

A Regional Land UseTransportation Decision Support Tool for MississippiWhen a new industry comes to town, the financial investment and revitalization that comes with it can be a boon to local economies and residents. But rural regions with deep roots in agriculture and manufacturing may encounter challenges in balancing the character and history of their communities with the development needs of new industry—especially if that new industry is high-tech. The people of Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, where a new Toyota plant recently opened, face such a challenge.

In a report entitled A Regional Land Use-Transportation Decision Support Tool for Mississippi, Brian Morton, CURS Senior Research Associate and principal investigator of the study, outlines two starkly different development futures for the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area. One projects rapid expansion of the towns of Tupelo and New Albany, both near the plant, which eclipse the region’s smaller towns. The second development pattern envisions more even growth among the regions larger towns: Houston, Pontotoc, New Albany, and Tupelo.

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