Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Social Capital and Health Efficacy in Mixed-Income Development

Friday, November 13, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Sarah Martin-Anderson1, Tawnya Metzler2 and Lindsey Bachman1, (1)University of Missouri, Kansas City, (2)Weigand-Omega Management
In a recent interview, Lawrence Vale, an urban studies professor at MIT who has studied mixed-income housing in Chicago and other cities said "there are lots of assumptions about what the new [mixed income] neighborhoods should do to help low-income residents find role models or better social networks…but the empirical evidence of that has been scant."

This study, a partnership between academia, local government and the private sector, aims to fill some of the empirical gaps in the literature focusing on the social returns of mixed-income development. Specifically, we address the following research questions:

(1)   What is the likelihood that residents in mixed-income developments are, indeed, mixing? Do the social networks of the low-income and market-rate residents overlap, or are mixed-income developments simply two separate universes operating in parallel?

(2)   Can a place-based health intervention increase not only health efficacy, but social capital as well?

(3)   Do wrap-around services in a mixed-income development increase retention of residents and improve the health and well-being of residents?

This project took place in a large mixed-income 55+ development in Kansas City, KS. This study employed a pretest/posttest, non-equivalent group design. Roughly 100 households were enrolled in this study—about 90% of the total occupancy of the building. About half of the households qualified for low-income state housing subsidies, and half of the households were headed by a non-white resident.

Management of the building, in partnership with the resident advisory council, the local public health department and numerous not-for-profit organizations, put on six monthly Community Health Intervention and Learning (CHILL) sessions. Each session centered on a specific health topic and included free basic health screenings, as well as assistance with insurance enrollment or other health care issues. Residents were surveyed before the sessions began and after all sessions were complete—data was collected on health efficacy using an adapted version of the Stanford Patient Education Research Center tool and social capital using the Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey short form. Residents were also asked questions about their within-building social networks, health status and basic demographics.

Data collection and analysis is ongoing and due for completion by the end of the summer. Early results indicate high levels of economic segregation within the building, with low-income residents and market-rate residents showing little overlap in social networks. Furthermore, low-income residents were more likely to perceive strong social capital in the building and were also more likely to participate in building governance, compared to the market-rate residents. Low-income residents at baseline exhibited much lower health efficacy and lower trust in physicians compared to their market-rate counterparts.

This study will not only inform housing and community development policy, it will serve as a case study in community-engaged research. The triple-partnership between the University, the local government and private developers provides an interesting context for studying effective and equitable public policies.