Dallas, TX
United States

NYU Center for Urban and Social Progress 

Identifying repair needs in substandard homes through community surveys and assessing the reach and equity of Dallas home-repair programs to improve housing quality. 

Racist housing policies and practices, including discriminatory lending patterns, have led to systematic disinvestment in communities of color, causing a reduction in housing quality in these communities. Substandard housing conditions are perpetuated by a lack of resources and challenges with enforcing existing city code, which make improvements and repairs difficult. Residents living under these conditions are more likely to be at risk for hazards including asthma and respiratory illness, lead poisoning, accidental injury, anxiety and depression, and poor academic outcomes. As part of the first step to addressing and improving housing quality, the Child Poverty Action Lab (CPAL) seeks to (1) identify the home-repair needs within a specified census tract in Dallas that has significant housing-quality issues and (2) assess the reach and equity of Dallas home-repair programs.  

CPAL plans to refine and finalize a survey instrument developed by a graduate-level data-science team at NYU’s Center for Urban Social Progress (CUSP) that is designed to assess housing adequacy and catalog potential repair needs. The instrument will receive additional feedback from relevant city and nonprofit staff to ensure that any repair needs referenced in the survey can be feasibly addressed by city programs. Once refined, the survey will be administered at the housing-unit level within the identified census tract by paid neighborhood residents who have been trained to “block walk” and meet with neighbors. Following data collection, CPAL’s analytics team will clean, analyze, and visualize responses in a publicly available final report and database. 

CPAL will share the final results with a wide audience, including residents of the surveyed census tract, who will be better equipped to advocate for and access repairs for their homes; city staff and nonprofits, who will be able to better direct existing resources; and elected officials and philanthropy leaders, who can expand available resources and build issue awareness. Together, these stakeholders can work to ensure that home-repair programs are equitably administered so that all residents can live in a healthy and safe home, especially those in communities most affected by structural racism.