In 2012, Kara Byrne was working as a graduate research assistant and social worker at the Hartland Partnership Center on the west side of Salt Lake City.  As she worked with residents, housing was consistently their most pressing need; the thing they felt most anxiety over.  “Housing,” she says, “is a foundation for families.  It’s a foundation for communities.” Housing—evictions in particular—was also important to the agencies she was working with. With a foundation in participatory action research, when determining a research topic for her doctoral dissertation, she followed the needs of the community.

Since then, she’s graduated from her PhD program and works full time as research faculty at the College of Social Work.  Since then, evictions and housing continue to be large-scale issues that need attention.  And since then, Department of Geography Assistant Professor Rich Medina has joined her research efforts.  Their current work includes a multi-facet project cross correlating county eviction records with the American Community Survey (ACS) census data and mapping that raw data using Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology.  Additionally, they have a strong qualitative component, conducting interviews with people who were recently evicted or forced out of their homes in order to analyze the components and circumstances that precede and follow eviction.

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