Pairing qualitative data gathered from communities with quantitative data to understand how COVID-19 has affected neighborhood housing stability and to identify potential policies and near-term interventions.
The rental market in Memphis is one of the fastest growing in the United States. Innovate Memphis, a nonprofit focused on delivering civic solutions, is interested in learning how the economic factors of the novel coronavirus impact housing instability at the neighborhood level. Are legal and illegal evictions occurring in predominately African American neighborhoods whose residents have low incomes? What tools exist for supporting tenants during a housing crisis, and where are the gaps? How can place-based organizations in Memphis share data to make rapid decisions and interventions with residents? How does housing instability make people more vulnerable to the coronavirus?
Working with the COMMONS, a coalition of eight place-based community organizations across Memphis in primarily African American neighborhoods, Innovate Memphis will provide rapid-response data using a mixed-methods approach. First, it will administer 15 to 20 surveys in five target areas: North Memphis, South Memphis, the Medical District, Binghampton, and Memphis’s inner-ring suburbs. These surveys will be accompanied by interviews and/or focus groups administered by neighborhood leaders and paired with data on property ownership, tax status, utility cutoffs, eviction filings, and neighborhood conditions. Innovate Memphis will give community members and COMMONS organizations in each neighborhood a base map with each of the data assets listed and will work with them to get feedback on what other information they need.
This interactive approach to data collection will make it possible to monitor new trends as they arise and follow up quickly. Community members will drive the process, providing feedback on what meaningful data and interventions look like to them. Secondary audiences include nonprofits and the University of Memphis School of Law, which Innovate Memphis is supporting on a joint city/county eviction settlement program. These groups will receive relevant reports and updates over the next six months that will inform city and county housing policies and near-term interventions.