July 23, 2024
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Public Administration students partner with Binghamton Housing Authority to impact those in need

Research gives students a broader understanding of the role public housing plays in communities

Kristina Marty, senior associate dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) and professor of public administration. Kristina Marty, senior associate dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) and professor of public administration.
Kristina Marty, senior associate dean of the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA) and professor of public administration.

Last spring, the Binghamton Housing Authority (BHA) applied for a federal grant requiring the agency to get feedback from at least 20% of residents about their needs in areas such as education, employment and money management.

BHA turned to students in the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program for help, giving them the opportunity to collaborate with a public agency to improve the lives of local residents.

The students were enrolled in Associate Professor Kristina Marty’s Research Methods class and Marty was happy to assist. In fact, partnering with local agencies to link theory with real-world application is standard practice for her students.

“I love teaching this class! Each time, my students partner with a community agency, collecting and analyzing primary data as part of the class,” says Marty, who is also the senior associate dean.

The class designed a survey that would allow BHA to better understand what services would most help residents move from public housing to self-sufficiency.

“It was a partnership in the truest sense of the word,” Marty says. “We designed the survey and ran it by BHA for them to add questions or modify our wording to make sure we were giving them what they wanted.”

After BHA staff surveyed residents door-to-door, Marty’s students summarized and analyzed the responses. The results showed that the services most needed are those that help with children, domestic violence, drugs and alcohol, credit score improvement and money management.

In addition to learning the skills needed to create a valid and reliable survey, Marty says her students gained a deeper understanding of the role public housing plays. Before the project started, a representative from BHA spoke to her class.

“People often have a negative image when they think of public housing, but it has the potential to be an agent of change that’s very positive,” Marty says. “The purpose of this grant, for example, is to allow residents to access supportive services so, ideally, they will be able to transition out of public housing.”

Marty has a “soft spot” for housing authorities because her first professional position was as grants administrator for the Syracuse Housing Authority. She adds that being part of a team working to help people have better access to affordable housing was extremely rewarding.

Posted in: Campus News, CCPA