Dallas, TX
United States

City of Dallas Department of Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress, Jubilee Park and Community Center
Social media handle(s)
@cparlab (Twitter), @childpovertyaction (Instagram)

Identified repair needs in substandard homes through community surveys and assessed equity of existing 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 neighborhoods perpetuated by a lack of code enforcement and resources to improve conditions. 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) in Dallas set out to bridge the information gap by identifying the repair needs in a specified neighborhood determined to have significant housing quality issues and by assessing repair programs at a citywide level.

CPAL refined and finalized a survey instrument developed by a data science team at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) designed to assess housing adequacy and catalog potential repair needs. The instrument was reviewed by relevant city staff to ensure any repair needs referenced in it might feasibly be addressed by existing programs. Once refined, the survey was administered at the housing unit level within the identified neighborhood, Jubilee Park, by 14 paid neighborhood residents who were trained to “block walk” and meet with neighbors. During surveying, residents were also screened to determine eligibility for local housing programs, including lead abatement, and this information was shared with local agencies. Following data collection, an analytics team from CPAL cleaned, analyzed, and visualized responses, which will be available in a forthcoming report.

The survey results were shared via community playback sessions at the Jubilee Park Community Center, which featured data presentations, education about housing repair programs, meetings with local representatives, and distribution of important household safety items, such as fire extinguishers. Results indicated that more than half of households had wet spots, leaks, dampness, or mold in the past year, and about 70 percent need an interior and/or exterior home repair. More than half of households did not have either a working carbon monoxide detector or fire extinguisher. Residents of the impacted neighborhoods attended the playback sessions and are now better equipped to advocate for and access repairs for their homes. The sessions were also attended by city and nonprofit staff who will be able to better direct existing resources.

CPAL learned many lessons from this work, including the power of using local community members in its data canvassing efforts, which led to a higher response rate from residents. CPAL is also excited about the replicability of this project model and plans to deploy it in other neighborhoods. City officials also noted that they were interested in seeing this project repeated in other areas of the city.