December 18, 2008

Exploring the Social and Economic Impact of Redevelopment

Emily Esteve ’10 is part of an interdisciplinary research team providing support for residents of Easton’s Delaware Terrace redevelopment project

Emily Esteve ’10 (Skillman, N.J.), a psychology and Spanish double major, is working on an interdisciplinary team studying the impact of the demolishing and rebuilding of Easton’s Delaware Terrace housing project. Her portion of the project is headed by Jamila Bookwala, associate professor of psychology.

This past semester, I have been working with a team of Lafayette professors and EXCEL Scholars to evaluate the impact of the HOPE VI Program in Easton. HOPE VI, “Housing Opportunities for People Everywhere,” is a program designed to renovate public housing developments across the United States. In 2006, the Housing Authority of the City of Easton was awarded a $20 million grant from HOPE VI to redevelop a distressed public housing development on the south-side of Easton.

By demolishing the existing Delaware Terrace development and replacing it with a new community of rental units and homes, the Housing Authority of the City of Easton hopes to improve living conditions and quality of life for the Delaware Terrace residents. Demolition is set to begin early in 2009, and at this point, all of the residents have been relocated.

Finding a new place to live while their old homes are being torn down and reconstructed can be a stressful process for the residents of Delaware Terrace. As part of the HOPE VI grant, each household of residents has been assigned to a CSS (community and supportive services) case manager to help with this process.

Our role, as a team of evaluators from Lafayette, is to assess the effectiveness of CSS as well as the social, psychological, and economic impact of the HOPE VI program on the Delaware Terrace residents and surrounding Easton neighborhood. Under the guidance of Professor Bookwala; Mark Crain, Simon Professor of Political Economy; David Shulman, associate professor of anthropology and sociology; and David L. Woglom, associate director for public service, a group of EXCEL Scholars have been working to collect data. Molly Lieber ’09, Kelly Sendelsky ’10, Lauren Buisson ’10, and I have been conducting phone interviews with the Delaware Terrace residents.

We have spoken with them about the living conditions of the development, the experience of being relocated, the social and economic impacts of moving out of their homes, their personal health (both psychological and physical) before and after moving out of Delaware Terrace, and the experience of working with a case manager. These interviews have been both interesting and rewarding. I have gained insight into the psychological impact of being displaced, and perhaps most valuable of all, have learned how my classroom knowledge can be applied to the real world.

In my psychology courses at Lafayette, I have learned about research practices and survey methodology. Working with Professor Bookwala as a part of this research team has given me hands on experience with data collection that reaches beyond my classroom experience and has helped to prepare me for graduate school in psychology. This research has been particularly exciting because of its potential to affect the city of Easton and the people who call it home. I hope that our research will help the housing authority to successfully redevelop Delaware Terrace, so that it is a safe and happy community with improved living conditions.

  • Psychology
  • EXCEL/Undergraduate Research
  • Easton Housing Authority Hires Lafayette for HOPE VI

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