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School and Program Updates

School and Program Updates

Michigan Launches New Projects to Fight Poverty

On any given day across Michigan nearly 100 homeowners or renters could be evicted—a rate almost one-and-a-half times the national average. That is a problem one of nine new projects funded by the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions initiative aims to tackle in 2019 with support from the Detroit Urban Research Center, a partnership among the University of Michigan schools​ of Public Health, Nursing and Social Work.

“This project is a step in reducing the number of evictions in Michigan because it will help improve the quality of existing eviction data, help explain patterns of evictions, and identify local policies and practices associated with lower rates of eviction,” said Dr. Robert Goodspeed, assistant professor of urban planning at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, who will co-lead the project with fellow Taubman emerita professor Dr. Margaret Dewar and Ms. Elizabeth Benton, of the Michigan Advocacy Program.

The eviction project is among nine projects, including two from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, that kick off this month and are intended to prevent and alleviate poverty. Eight University of Michigan units have received a combined $200,000 for projects to fight poverty this year. Four of these projects involve significant community-academic partnerships, with collaborative research activities facilitated in part by the Detroit Urban Research Center, Detroit Health Department, Henry Ford Health System and nine community-based organizations.

“These projects combine the intellect, research and purpose-driven efforts of the University of Michigan and our partners to bring about positive change,” said Dr. H. Luke Shaefer, director of Poverty Solutions and associate professor at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Social Work. “These investments in finding out what works bring us closer to identifying concrete solutions to many of the poverty challenges of our time.”

Work will begin this month to test a variety of models to address poverty, including:

“These community-academic partnerships build upon the joint expertise and resources of the university and communities involved to address some of our most pressing problems,” said Dr. Barbara Israel, director of the Detroit Urban Research Center and professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. “The innovative strategies, rigorous methods and commitment that these partnerships bring to bear on these issues will greatly contribute to reducing poverty and its negative impact.”

This marks the third round of university poverty-related grants since Poverty Solutions launched in 2016. Previous projects have helped improve affordable housing in Detroit by informing new policies; explored new models for providing community-based healthcare and jobs to underserved neighborhoods; and developed new tools to measure insecurity, such as a Transportation Security Index, which operationalizes transportation insecurity by measuring an individual’s ability to get to the places he/she needs to go regardless of transportation used or area of residence.

Through projects like these, Poverty Solutions has helped leverage nearly $9 million in external funding to continue to support faculty and partners doing this work.

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