TASK FORCE TENTATIVE OUTLINE by roscoeparrish

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									                   WWS 469: RESEARCH QUESTIONS (8)

Research Area 1: Low Income Home Ownership and Asset Building
Isles Program Areas: Real Estate Development and Financial Self Reliance
Isles VP:            Jerry Bodenstein and Peter Rose
Number of Students: 14 students

Area 1, Research Question 1: Affordable Housing Distribution
Isles is interested in the distribution of affordable housing in Mercer county. Specifically,
Isles would like to know how Mercer county municipalities are implementing their Fair
Share Plans. Each municipality has been mandated to design a plan to address the
municipal fair share for low and moderate income housing as determined by the New
Jersey Council on Affordable Housing.

Focusing on Trenton, Hamilton, and Hopewell, students should contact the municipal
planning office to get a copy of its most recent Fair Share Plan. The plan should provide
details on the difference between the proposed number of affordable housing units and
the number of affordable housing units that are actually built. From examining the plan
and talking with local housing officials, Isles would like students to determine (a) how
many of the units that are affordable are not occupied; (b) how the affordable housing
units are advertised; and (c) what affordable housing is currently in the approval process
and what affordable housing projects are currently under construction or are being
planned for the future. This information will provide Isles with a recommendation for
where to develop affordable housing in the future. In addition, Isles would like to know
more about the other assets (schools, health care, grocery stores, churches, property taxes,
crime and safety) in municipalities with a high density of affordable housing. This
information can be helpful in determining what the main barriers are to development of
affordable housing (political, financial or social barriers), and it is important that these
issues are examined for both home owners and renters.

Number of Students: 7
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
     Example of Fair Share Plan for West Windsor
     Information on the Opportunity Index of each municipality in Mercer County
     Contact with Kevin Walsh who is knowledgeable about the implementation of
       Fair Share Plans in Mercer County
     Also see website for NJ Department of Community Affairs, Housing Division -
       http://www.state.nj.us/dca/dh/ - see the Council on Affordable Housing section
Important Dates
     Date determined by student - Visit to municipal planning office
     Date determined by student – Discussions with local housing officials
     TBD – Discussion with Kevin Walsh
Deliverable to Isles
     Report to Isles on availability, advertisement process, and proximity to vital
       services of affordable housing in each municipality investigated


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Area 1, Research Question 2: The Experience of Low Income Home Ownership
Isles has made it possible for a significant number of low income families to become first
time home buyers, particularly in the Monument Crossing neighborhood. How has this
change in their residential experience made a difference? Specifically, in consultation
with Isles staff, students will design a focus group guide with questions for both long-
term homeowners and short-term homeowners. Isles staff will moderate the focus group,
and students must be in attendance when the focus group is conducted. In addition to
being asked general questions, focus group homeowners will also participate in break out
sessions: one specifically for long-term homeowners and the other for short-term
homeowners.

Although focus groups were conducted in 2005, Isles is looking for a more systematic
analysis of all the focus group information and is interested in any changes that have
occurred since 2005. Residents will have all been in homes at least a year. All of this
information will be useful as new post-closing resources are developed for new
homeowners. Some specific questions that could be included in a focus group are below.

Did moving have an impact on other aspects of life (health, family stability, optimism,
labor market experience, psychological well-being, educational and financial benefits,
etc.)? Are new residents able to keep up with utility bills? How have their bills changed
from when they were renting? Are they using budgets or realizing that specific habits are
not allowing them to budget effectively? Have children’s grades changed since they
moved into homes? Have family structures changed?

Number of Students: 2
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
     Video of most recent focus groups with Monument Crossing homeowners
     Housing cost and affordability worksheet for first time homeowners (16)
     Results from Sense of Community and Neighborhood Security Survey from the
       Monument Crossing and Bellevue Avenue communities
Important Dates
     Date determined by student - Visit to Isles to discuss focus group guide with Joe
       Robinson and Alex Allen; Perhaps tour of Monument Crossing development
     February 22 (evening) – Focus group with homeowners
Deliverable to Isles
     Focus group guide for long-term homeowners
     Focus group guide for short-term homeowners
     Analysis of focus group results




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Area 1, Research Question 3: Post Purchase Counseling and Foreclosure
Post-Purchase Counseling
Isles is interested in best practices in post-purchase counseling. Currently, Isles gives
new homeowners a handbook at closing and offers a post-closing class on maintenance
and budgeting. Determining what other nonprofit organizations are doing to educate new
homeowners after closing would be useful for future first time homeowner classes. The
Real Estate Development Department is specifically interested in the following: whether
organizations are using newsletters or email to stay in touch with homeowners and if
nonprofits do extensive post closing activities with the homeowner, who funds these
activities. Isles would like students to provide the outline for a new four to five page
handbook for post-purchase counseling for its homeowners.
Number of Students: 1
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
     Isles handbook used at post-closing class - ―Your New Home: Tips and
         Guidelines for Home Maintenance‖
     See Neighbor Works website for information on other Post –Purchase Counseling
         programs and recent conference on these issues
         http://www.nw.org/network/home.asp
Important Dates
     Date determined by student - Visit to Isles to discuss current counseling program
Deliverable to Isles
     Report to Isles on best practices in post-purchase counseling
     Outline for post-purchase handbook
Foreclosure
Foreclosure is a problem for low income home owners who often get into trouble because
of unfavorable lending terms, construction liens imposed for unaffordable repairs, etc.
Local residents often call the Isles office for foreclosure assistance, but Isles currently
does not offer specific programs in this area. Isles is interested in a trend analysis of
foreclosure rates over time in Trenton order to understand the dimensions of the problem
and to develop recommendations to diminish it. Students should contact the Mercer
County clerk’s office for this information and focus on foreclosures that occurred in
Trenton from January 2000 to January 2007. Isles is interested in where these
foreclosures are occurring most often in Trenton. After completing the trend analysis,
Isles would also like the student to research possible reasons homeowners do not react
once they find out they are in foreclosure.
Number of Students: 2
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
     Summer Research Paper of Veena Ramaswamy on foreclosure in Trenton for Isles
     See Neighbor Works website (Reports & Studies) for information on foreclosure
         issues http://www.nw.org/network/home.asp
     Also see website for NJ Department of Community Affairs, Housing Division -
         http://www.state.nj.us/dca/dh/
Important Dates
     Date determined by student - Visit to Mercer County clerk’s office
Deliverable to Isles
     Report on foreclosure trend analysis and reasons for lack of homeowner reaction


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Area 1, Research Question 4: Predatory/Subprime Lending
Isles is interested in the problem of sub-prime lending in poor neighborhoods and the
relationship between this form of lending (for mortgages and home repairs) and high
rates of foreclosure among low income home owners. To understand this problem more
clearly, students should investigate the following questions: (a) who are the lenders
offering mortgages in low income Trenton neighborhoods? (b) what kinds of mortgage
terms are these lenders offering? (c) how would we distinguish between lenders who are
covering the risks associated with lending in poor neighborhoods, to low income owners,
versus those that might be termed "predatory" lenders, which might be defined as those
lenders who set terms far less favorable than the norm, who have high rates of foreclosure
against low income home owners, and that appear to be profiting from this practice? (d)
The lending sources that are over-represented among low income home owners facing (or
already in) foreclosure? This project should consider not only mortgage lenders, but
home repair businesses that make use of mechanics leans to insure payment. Interested
students would choose some of these areas to investigate and interview local officials
who are knowledgeable about subprime lending.

Number of Students: 2
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
Important Dates:
     Date determined by student – Meetings with officials knowledgeable about
       subprime lending
Deliverable to Isles:
     Report to Isles on subprime home mortgage lending in Trenton




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Research Area 2: Employment and Training
Isles Program Area: Career Center/Youth Build Program
Isles VP:           Clete Davis
Number of Students: 4 students

Area 2, Research Question 1: Impact of Career Center on Alumni
In the summer of 2006 Isles started an alumni association for graduates of the Career
Center. Conducting a focus group with Career Center graduates from several cycles will
allow Isles to examine how their current employment has changed the graduates’ sense of
self. Specifically, alumni will be asked how their social networks have changed by virtue
of being employed, how aspirations have changed as a consequence of being in the
workforce, how they are able to navigate various social service agencies as a result of
their employment and experiences in job hunting, such as whether criminal records were
disclosed when they applied for jobs. Isles is also interested in the desires of alumni for
additional Isles programming post-graduation, interest in post-secondary education, and
the pattern of student involvement in the Isles program, specifically, whether students
leave the program and then return later. Confidentiality is an important issue for this
group.

Number of Students: 2
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
     Responses from Summer 2006 Career Center Alumni Contact Forms
Important Dates:
     Date determined by student - Visit to Isles to discuss focus group guide with Joe
       Robinson and Alex Allen; Perhaps tour of Career Center
     March 8 (evening) – Youth Build alumni focus group
Deliverable to Isles
     Focus group guide for Career Center Alumni
     Analysis of focus group results




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Area 2, Research Question 2: Student Reasons for Drop Out from Isles Career Center
In September 2006 and December 2006, Isles admitted two groups of new students to the
Career Center. About 50 percent of these students have dropped out of the program.
Although career center staff are aware of the reasons for dropout for many of these youth,
Isles is interested in the students’ reasons for dropping out of the program and what they
can do to encourage more students to remain in the program. Career center staff will
contact Career Center students who were enrolled in the program, but did not complete it.
Students in WWS469 will develop a focus group guide and attend a focus group with
students who recently dropped out of the Career Center program. Some specific
questions that can be asked are the following: Does age play a role in students that
terminate from the program? Does having a child play a role in students that terminate
from the program? Are students who did not participate in Youth Build less likely to get
jobs or have stable living situations? Are they more likely to experience recidivism? Are
students who were not successful in other area Youth Build programs also unable to
complete the Isles Youth Build program? Parental permission will be obtained for
students who are under the age of 18. If we are unable to contact students who no longer
attend the Career Center, staff may also be used.

Number of Students: 2
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
Important Dates:
     Date determined by student - Visit to Isles to discuss focus group guide with Joe
       Robinson and Alex Allen; Perhaps tour of Career Center
     March 7 (evening) – Youth Build focus group with students who have dropped
       out
Deliverable to Isles
     Focus group guide for Career Center students who have dropped out
     Analysis of focus group results

Research Area 3: Environmental Health and Healthy Homes –Asthma
Isles Program Area: Environment and Community Health
Isles VP:           Elyse Pivnick
Number of Students: 2 students

Area 3, Research Question 1: Best Practices for Isles in Asthma Outreach
Isles joined with the City of Trenton asthma program three years ago but would like to
take a more individual role in asthma health issues in Trenton. Consistent funding has
been an issue for the Isles Asthma program. Isles did have asthma management
counselors in the field. However, the program has not been funded for three years.

Isles is interested in examining asthma programs in other cities with consistent funding.
Although Trenton is a small city, programs in larger cities may provide useful
information on best practices that could be implemented on a smaller scale.

Isles is also interested in what the City of Trenton and other health practitioners think
would be the best role for Isles to take in asthma public health issues. Students should be


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aware that in the past Isles was most involved in environmental counseling on asthma
issues, but the medical side of asthma issues is also important. However, the city has
focused more on the medical piece than Isles. Students who undertake this piece of
research should interview Pat Nelson Johnson and officials in Trenton who work with
asthma issues.

Finally, Isles is in need of information that will be useful as they begin the process of
obtaining funding for their asthma program. Having information for funders, such as an
assessment of the costs of treating an asthma patient (such as costs to health insurance,
hospitals, doctors, prescriptions, etc.) versus the costs of an effective asthma prevention
program or the impact of asthma on school performance for children (such as being held
back due to attendance issues, etc) will be useful to Isles in obtaining funding for the Isles
asthma program in the future.

Number of Students: 2
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
      See Asthma Health Outcomes Project http://www.epa.gov/asthma/ahop.html
      Description of Isles In-Home Asthma Education Program
            See ―Preproposal: Isles Asthma Management Counselor Program‖
               In-home, comprehensive, integrated asthma counseling was
               provided to families with children experiencing chronic asthma.
            See Isles Asthma Management Counselor Program: Community Based
                In-Home Asthma Environmental Education and Management Program
Important Dates:
     Date determined by student – Discussion with City of Trenton officials and/or Pat
       Nelson Robinson about next steps for Isles in asthma management
Deliverable to Isles
     Report to Isles on best practices in asthma programs and next steps in asthma
       management programs

Research Area 4: Environmental Health and Healthy Homes –Lead
Isles Program Area: Environment and Community Health
Isles VP:           Elyse Pivnick
Number of Students: 3 students

Area 4, Research Question 1: Gaps in Lead Remediation Practices
Isles is currently putting together information on best practices in lead remediation. The
lead program has been consistently funded, but the program has not received enough
funding to work on all the aspects of lead remediation that the community needs. The
environmental health department at Isles is currently in the process of putting together a
conference on healthy homes and environmental health. Based on the information they
have already put together, Isles staff would like recommendations from a WWS469
student on what the conference agenda should include.

Isles is also interested in what next steps they can take to make their lead program most
effective. Specifically, they are interested in differences in the New Jersey Goals for lead


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remediation versus the national goals for lead remediation. This information should
inform Isles how they can have a larger impact in the Trenton community through lead
remediation.

Currently, many schools require students to be tested for high lead levels before enrolling.
However, these results are often not linked to much needed treatment for the children.
Isles is interested in the effects on school systems of enrolling children with high lead
levels and what types of programs could be developed to alleviate the lack of linkage
between children with lead exposure and treatment.

Number of Students: 3
Information Isles can Provide to Students:
      Isles current information on lead best practices
      Information on Isles current lead program
           o See curriculum for healthy homes inspector training – ―Grantee
                Orientation: Bridging Science and Community Solutions for Healthy
                Housing‖
           o See Final Report: Environmental Justice Small Grants—Office of
                Environmental Justice USEPA Region 2, March 31, 2006 (less
                complicated than CEHRC tests)
                     Report/findings from 74 homes that were analyzed for 31 metals
           o See Isles Healthy Homes Briefing Paper (attached to EPA report)
           o See Alliance for Healthy Homes Community-Based Leveraging
                Strategies: Operation Leap Final Report to HUD (December 30, 2005)
           o See CEHRC Report
Important Dates:
     Date determined by student – Discussion with Lee Ann Howell
Deliverable to Isles
     Report to Isles on issues on lead for healthy homes conference
     Report to Isles on next steps for Isles in lead program and gaps in state and federal
       policy on lead remediation




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