Center for Housing and Community Engagement


Dr. Stephen J. Sills, Professor of Sociology

Director Center for Housing and Community Studies

Dr. Stephen Sills is a Community-Engaged Scholar and Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. He received a B.A. in Spanish from UNCG, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Arizona State University. His early work focused on global migration, immigrant access to health and social services, and social support networks for marginalized people. In 2015, Sills founded CHCS, a transdisciplinary research organization under the UNCG Office of Research and Engagement. His current projects include:  a multi-year formative/summative evaluation of a USDA Local Food Promotion Program developing food entrepreneurship in low-income communities; technical assistance to SAMSHA Partnerships for Success (PFS) grantees in rural communities to address behavioral health disparities in opioid overdose prevention focusing on underserved Latino and African-American youth; development of neighborhood-level health indicators to guide and evaluate impact of philanthropic projects for a local health foundation (Foundation for a Healthy High Point); the design and implementation of an evaluation of a multi-year neighborhood-based collective impact initiative to address diabetes and asthma (BUILD 2.0 Collaborative Cottage Grove); and an oral history project on Latino/a immigrants living in rural mobile home communities; and a recent study of pediatric asthma in low income neighborhoods using GIS analysis of hospital visits and housing assessments, which has led to over $4.5 million in neighborhood revitalization efforts (RWJF/Reinvestment Fund Invest Health Grant). Finally, he has worked at the regional level (with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council) to address housing and transportation needs and state-wide to look at quality of life as it relates to housing.

Dr. Sills has served as the principal investigator, co-principal investigator, evaluator, and methodological consultant on over 80 applied and community-engaged projects. Dr. Sills often uses Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) frameworks such as Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), Participant Action Research (PAR), and methods such as PhotoVoice (PV), Community Asset Mapping (CAM), and Community Action Planning (CAP) to leverage community resources to empower residents. He recently concluded a year-long Asset Based Community Development project with included a Community Action Plan for improving the quality of life in Southern Appalachia. He has been part of a “living laboratory” model of collaboration formalized in a partnership between UNCG and Guilford County Government through the MetroLab Network ( This partnership has been used to identify community issues (including eviction and homelessness) that can be solved through innovative research, development, and deployment (RD&D). He has conducted numerous Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) projects with immigrant community partners, including diabetes prevention in the Arab-American community in Michigan and hypertension in the Montagnard-Dega population in North Carolina.

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