Focus on outreach, student engagement prompts housing center name change
As the focus and reach of the Housing and Demographic Research Center has expanded since its inception 25 years ago, the University of Georgia has approved a new name for the center.
The name change from HDRC to the Center for Housing and Community Research better reflects the mission of the center, said Kim Skobba, associate professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences department of financial planning, housing and consumer economics.
“The name change reflects the focus of our programs, research and student engagement,” she said.
The center was founded in 1996 by several FACS faculty members and was formally affiliated through the National Consortium of Housing Research Centers. During its first decade, the center received funding for several large-scale research projects that included a statewide workforce housing study and an economic impact study on the use of low-income housing tax credits.
The center’s outreach arm, the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing, was launched in 2005 and has since become a focal point of its work.
A collaborative effort between FACS, UGA Public Service and Outreach, the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Georgia Power and the Georgia Municipal Association, GICH has facilitated progress toward housing stability in 81 communities throughout Georgia.
Over the past decade, the center has provided service-learning opportunities to hundreds of students, connecting coursework with project experience in Georgia communities.
Students involved in the program learn basic techniques of community and neighborhood analysis that provide valuable data. Program directors also have launched an interdisciplinary master’s degree program to provide graduate professional education and experiences in the field of housing and community development.
“We are fortunate to have the GICH program, which serves as a community development lab for our students,” Skobba said. “As a result, the center has created new opportunities to engage students and conduct research on how communities address housing needs.”