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Research to Address Community Problems: Planning a Homeless Shelter
The California State University, Stanislaus’ Center for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) and the Turlock, California community collaborated in a participatory action-research project, Community Inquiry: Homeless Shelter in Turlock. The research was to be used to plan a homeless shelter and the address the community response to homelessness.
Utilizing its community inquiry model of participatory action research, CPPS established four research groups: business owners/residents, homeless persons, faith-based organizations/service providers, and city government staff. CPPS and these groups developed research questions, designed data collection methods, and used the information collected to recommend strategies to address homelessness.
Graduate students in the CSU Stanislaus Master of Social Work (MSW) program collaborated with these groups to examine and document the groups’ processes, conduct literature reviews on specified topics, and help to conceptualize the research methodology. Students from several courses covering social work research and policy helped collect and organize data as course assignments.
A core group of community researchers continues to work with the city on implementing recommendations from the report. Students acquired concrete skills and experience relevant to their postgraduate employment goals, ten choosing some aspect of the project for their master’s thesis and adding to social work literature on homelessness issues. The CSU Stanislaus MSW program benefited from piloting an effort that resulted in course assignments applied to real issues in the community.
Valerie Leyva, Social Work
California State University, Stanislaus
Key words: Central Valley, social work, public policy, housing/homelessness, community collaboratives/research teams/advisory boards, graduate students