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Affordable Housing and Quality-of-Life Outcomes: An On-going Campus and Community Collaboration
For three years, sociology faculty and students at California State University, Channel Islands have partnered with Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), based in Ventura, California and serving Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. CEDC develops and builds housing, for rent and for sale affordable for low- and very-low-income families. One CEDC division counsels would-be home owners, and another provides community outreach on neighborhood safety, education, and other issues.
A sociology class, Narratives of the Working Classes, coincided with the opening of the 52-unit Villa Cesar Chavez townhome rental community (VCC), and has continued with senior capstone students. Students interviewed some residents who had just that month moved in. Those interviews became part of a virtual museum, but were limited by time and linguistic constraints.
Three years later, the partners conducted follow-up interviews with residents, with CEDC helping the faculty to draft the second survey instrument. All interviews were conducted in Spanish and then translated to English. In a testimonial to the impact of decent housing, residents described their lives before VCC, of landlords who didn’t repair mold, water or fire damage; of doubling and tripling up in houses and apartments; of poor health suffered by their children. Thanks to community meetings at VCC, residents are also more aware of their rights as workers. To address larger political issues, the residents rely on being active in local political organizations or can rely on the resident manager to help.
The transcribed interviews are still being analyzed, more than 300 pages where residents describe the disappearance of housing struggles from their lives. CEDC plans another collaborative, longitudinal study of a housing development, and will work with CSUCI to measure the economic impact of non-market-priced housing in a community.
Beth Hartung, Sociology
California State University, Channel Islands
Kathryn Benner, Cabrillo Economic Development Corporation
Lazaro Enriquez, Maricela Lemus, & Pilar Pacheco, California State University, Channel Islands
Key words: sociology, Southern California, low income, working class, community organizing/community building