Social & Environmental Justice
The Center for Housing and Community Studies is working to address the negative outcomes from racialized planning, redlining, and gentrification through research and programs that address social injustices. Our work on tenancy stabilization through eviction mediation and tenant advocacy are two examples of social justice work. Our comprehensive mediation program provides relief to an overburdened court system and helps to coordinate resources between various community agencies currently providing emergency rental assistance. By strengthening links between existing resources for residents seeking rent assistance and employment we also improve housing stability and reduce poverty in the years after the pandemic.
In 2019, CHCS began hosting the Tenant Leadership Academy, a 6-week leadership course for Greensboro area renters interested in improving their communities and building their own leadership abilities. CHCS’s goal with the academy is to reduce the number of evictions in Greensboro by helping tenants to strengthen their communities so that they have the tools to navigate broader socio-economic issues and structures. The Tenant Academy meets for half day sessions every other week for six weeks. Each session is broken down into 2-3 topic areas and includes many interactive activities. CHCS brings in community leaders and guest speakers to lead class sections. The main components of the course include an overview of neighborhood history and local government, learning about present day issues and resources, and cultivating leadership skills. At the end of the curriculum, each tenant will devise a community project to deploy within their own communities.
Another element impacting health and wellbeing in low-income communities is the status of the environment. Our public health is at risk from untreated sewage discharge; metals, arsenic, asbestos, and semi-volatile organic compounds leaching from soils of landfills; and alarming levels of synthetic chemicals such as PFOs, PFAs, and GenX in wells and water reservoirs. We are addressing these issues through community-based participatory research, citizen-science projects, involvement of university students in community outreach, educational programs for children, home based interventions, data analysis, and GIS.
CHCS currently has research underway to examine the neighborhood impact of urban incinerator waste buried under Bingham Park near South Buffalo Creek. These projects link to broader issues of housing and neighborhood as they impact the quality of the health of children and families. CHCS seeks to address health disparities, environmental justice, school readiness, and life-course opportunities as they impact the quality of children’s and families health through housing.