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Spring 2017 Community Based Research Summaries

January 19, 2017

Kris Nelson Community-Based Research Program

East Side Neighborhood Development Company (ESNDC)
Access to and Affordability of St. Paul Rec Centers for Low Income Families
Alyssa Schmeling, Master of Urban and Regional Planning

ESNDC’s mission is to foster a safe, diverse and thriving neighborhood by engaging the community to create healthy, affordable housing and commercial development. They are interested in understanding the barriers for families in low income neighborhoods accessing recreational facilities, their amenities and activities. This research project will be used to support ESNDC’s organizing activities on the accessibility of recreation centers in St. Paul. Specifically, the research will identify the amenities and activities of recreational facilities as it relates to socioeconomic characteristics of five low income neighborhoods in St. Paul.

SEWA-Asian Indian Family Wellness (AIFW)
Exploring Domestic Violence and Service Needs Among South-Asian Victims and Survivors
Meghana Bhimarao, Master of Science in Biostatistics

The Mission of SEWA-AIFW is to provide total family wellness for underserved and vulnerable populations of South Asians. SEWA-AIFW also trains a corps of volunteer advocates and builds resources to connect to the main stream in a culturally specific way. This project examines the social service needs, issues and barriers faced by South Asian women who are survivors of domestic violence. The project also provides an understanding of the extent of service needs so that partnerships with other governmental and non-governmental agencies can be established.

Hmong American Partnership (HAP)
Integrating Cultural Competency into the new Little Mekong Community Health Center
Joo Kim, Master of Social Work

Hmong American Partnership’s mission is to empower the community to embrace the strengths of their cultures while achieving their potential. HAP achieves this mission by: improving the lives of individuals and families in their diverse communities through culturally sensitive social services; strengthening neighborhoods through housing, community and economic development opportunities; and promoting the rich heritage of their ethnic communities. The purpose of this project is to develop a plan to fully integrate cultural competency into all aspects of patient care in a new community health center that will serve Southeast Asians and new immigrants in St. Paul. The research will be used to guide the planning committee in decision making, planning and implementation of a cultural competency plan for the new clinic. This project will also assist community partners who are involved with the planning or be referring for services because they will know that patients are receiving good care.

NeighborWorks Home Partners (NWHP)
Alternative Building Materials and Strategies for Vacant Lots in St. Paul
Aaron Hanson, Master of Science in Science, Technology & Environmental Policy

The Mission of NeighborWorks Home Partners is to revitalize neighborhoods by creating and supporting successful home-ownership. NWHP helps prepare potential homebuyers through financial capabilities education, one-on-one pre-purchase mortgage counseling and homebuyer education workshops. NWHP also offers down payment assistance to assist low/moderate income households in purchasing a home. The goal of this project is to create more affordable housing in neighborhoods with available vacant lots in older and more diverse St. Paul neighborhoods by understanding alternative building options and possibilities for vacant lots.

Nexus Community Partners
Growing a Culturally-Based Cooperative Ecosystem in the Twin Cities
Samantha Hodges, Master of Public Policy

Nexus Community Partners is a community-building intermediary whose mission is to “build more engaged and powerful communities of color by supporting community-building initiatives and foster social and human capital.” Nexus believes that the key to building more engaged and powerful communities lies in the interconnectedness between authorship, leadership and ownership. The goals of this project is to support the work in building more engaged and powerful communities of color through research of best practices in community wealth building efforts within communities of color and cultural communities across the region and country. The research will also provide recommendations for developing a formal training curriculum for Technical Assistance Providers of Color.

Artspace Projects, Inc.
Identifying Best Practices for Inclusive, Equitable Artist Housing in the Twin Cities and across America
Hattie Hiler, Master of Public Policy

Artspace’s mission is to create, foster and preserve affordable space for artists and arts organizations. Artspace was founded in 1979 to address a deceptively simple question: how could Minneapolis responsibly relocate artists who were being displaced by the gentrification of its warehouse district? Working at the intersection of the arts, urban planning and real estate, Artspace pioneered a new approach to an age-old problem. Rather than seeing these artists as barriers to economic growth, we recognized them as unique partners in building better communities: individuals who may be low in income but are rich in creativity, entrepreneurialism and resilience. Today Artspace owns and operates 41 art spaces in cities from coast-to-coast, representing a total investment of nearly $600 million, and we work with scores of communities on sustainable, place-based strategies to foster their creative sectors. As artist housing becomes an increasingly common tool of community development, this project will help inform a complex field bridging for profit and nonprofit developers and community development agencies about best practices that help ensure low-income artist housing is inclusive and equitable.

Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless (MCH)
Who Benefits from Housing Advocacy: An Analysis of Legislative Outcomes
Michelle Sancartier, Master of Public Health & Social Work

The mission of the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless is to generate policies, community support and local resources for housing and services to end homelessness in Minnesota. The Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless has helped secure an additional $193 million in state funding for housing and homeless services in the state budget. The CURA project uses publicly available information to analyze who benefits from this advocacy.

Minnesota Housing Partnership
Identifying Housing Issues for People of Color and Immigrant Groups
Serena Xiong, PhD Epidemiology

Minnesota Housing Partnership (MHP) convenes, guides and supports diverse partners working to improve conditions of home and community. Building on decades of experience, they strengthen development capacity and promote policies that expand opportunity, especially for people at the lowest income levels. Researchers, advocates and policymakers have long defined the housing issues facing communities of color and immigrant groups rather than allowing these communities to define the issues themselves. This project engages advocacy organizations that represent these communities in defining pressing housing issues and examines best practices for engaging communities of color/immigrant groups around housing issues.

Community Assistantship Program (CAP)

Community Assistantship Program (CAP)

Angechu “Working Together” Community Empowerment
Sean Hadorn, Master of Development Practice

The mission of Angechu is to assist Micronesian people in the Milan, Minnesota area who want to become homeowners and study ways in which they can become professional construction trades people. Many rural western Minnesota communities have lost the value of their housing stock and are looking for ways to rebuild their tax base. Milan is a unique community because it has a very fast growing population. Many of the Micronesian people would like to own their own homes, but the housing stock in Milan will not meet housing standards for SBA or USDA which are the preferred mortgage companies. Angechu and the City of Milan are interested in identifying the most expedient process to help communities like Milan to provide needed housing for this growing population.

Cass County Farm Bureau
Community Market Study for Ranch-raised, Locally Processed Beef
Graham Ambrose, Master of Science in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy

There is increasing research that sustainable agricultural practices can reverse soil degradation and restore impacted landscapes. Through the use of intensive rotational grazing, crop diversity, minimized tillage and cover crops, farmers and ranchers can build soil health, increase soil carbon, water holding capacity and productivity. The long-term goal of this program, led by the Cass County Farm Bureau, is to leverage the rejuvenated farmland and watershed health that these production practices foster in the marketing of locally raised meats. Cass County Farm Bureau is interested in conducting a feasibility study and identify potential marketing strategies that highlight the shared economic and social benefits of a standard of livestock production that builds soil health, improves farmer income and protects this region’s precious water resources.

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL)
Community Trust-Owned Solar (Solar Commons) Benefiting Low-income Minnesotans: Becoming a Solar Commons Trustee
Matthew Grimley, Master of Science in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy

RREAL is dedicated to making the benefits of solar energy accessible to communities of all income levels, and has been pioneering the use of solar energy to reduce poverty in Minnesota. As part of its goal to make solar energy that benefits low-income residents of Minnesota, RREAL will initiate a feasibility study to understand the legal obligations and to guide its decision-making about becoming a trustee of a Solar Commons, a community-trust owned solar photovoltaic array whose income stream from solar service sales would be dedicated to a local homeless shelter. Specifically, RREAL is interested in the benefits, disadvantages, opportunities, obstacles and process of RREAL’s becoming a trustee of a Solar Commons photovoltaic array in Duluth that benefits a local Native American women’s homeless shelter.

Churches United in Ministry (CHUM)
Building Economic Stability for Women Living in Long-Term Supportive Housing
Christine Empanger, Bachelor of Social Work

Churches United in Ministry (CHUM) is people of faith working together to provide basic necessities, foster stable lives and organize for a just and compassionate community. Over forty faith communities in Duluth are part of CHUM. The core mission of the organization is to provide social safety net programs which include emergency food, shelter, advocacy and outreach to over 7,000 hungry, homeless and low-income people each year. The purpose of this research project is to explore micro-entrepreneurship among formerly homeless women who live in long-term supportive housing at Steve O’Neil Apartments (SONA). SONA is CHUM’s newest project in providing permanent supporting housing to families who have experienced long-term or recurrent homelessness.