Friday, November 13, 2015

Leah Blog #2

At the end of our last workshop, I was feeling overwhelmed and slightly flustered, but I was confident that with guidance, I would eventually come to a refined topic.  Fortunately, a day into my research, I came to something: mobility programs.  My approach is simple - It starts with housing vouchers for low-income women. The result, a mobility program that allows these low-income women and their families to move into better neighborhoods.  Modeled after a 10-year research demonstration done by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development called Moving to Opportunity, the mobility program I have in mind, will create more sustainable environments for women and their families, improving health and overall well-being.
I knew I wanted to focus my research on the built environment in disadvantaged neighborhoods and the health and wellbeing of the women and children living in such communities; but I found the task of narrowing down my topic challenging.  As easy as it sounds, I didn’t feel right to focus on one factor of the built environment because I’m well aware that it’s more than just one single factor contributing to low-income women’s negative health outcomes and wellbeing in these communities.  More research on the Moving to Opportunity demonstration lead me to believe I wouldn’t have to choose between a number of  factors.  In fact, this study confirmed mobility opportunities and neighborhood characteristics matter for family outcomes.  It was found that housing mobility programs can improve the quality of immediate environment and mental and physical health for women.  
Similar to Moving to Opportunity and other mobility programs implemented in Baltimore, New York, and California, my program will allow eligible families (households with children, who qualify for subsidized government housing) to move into neighborhoods with better resources, neighborhood conditions and social networks.  I want the program to include mobility counseling services to provide guidance for these families moving into new communities.  The goal is better overall wellbeing for women of color and their children who are disproportionately represented in disadvantaged neighborhoods here in urban North Carolina and around the country.
Through collaborations between chosen my nonprofit, Passage Home, my research will focus on correct implementation of mobility programs.  I will continue to do more in depth research about the outcomes of mobility programs and how it will be useful to communities in urban North Carolina.


  1. Leah--first I wanted to comment on how honored I am to be your mentor this year--this fellowship is tricky, and bumps along the way are to be expected. How bumps are handled reveals dedication to the cause, and to that end, I am so proud of the work you have done in the last week to decide on a topic that means so much to you. I am eager to see how your collaboration with the N.C Community Development Initiative pans out. Your comment about the initiative allowing you to feel as though you don't have to "choose" between topics is so timely--it is important to keep in mind the intersecting oppressions that face women and girls, and you hit the nail on the head in finding a project that tackles so much at once, while still focusing on the concrete goal of improving housing options for women in need. Eager to continue to watch your process and aid in any way that I can :) Wonderful post!

  2. Leah, frustration does wonders for progress! Way to go!