Written by Melissa Tav, CHHS Communications Specialist

“If you are not a citizen, you are nothing.”

That is the sentiment Fresnan Juan Carlos Carillo said he experienced as he talked about the housing issues he has dealt with for the past 14 years. He said he has seen a rise in rent over the years while facing unlivable conditions in his apartment, which he said continue to go unaddressed by his landlord.

The father of three is one of thousands in the region who have been affected by housing affordability and inequality. For people of color, this is especially true.

In December 2017, the Central Valley Health Policy Institute at Fresno State led the inaugural Fair Housing Data Conference to talk about the issues that Valley residents like Carillo face each day. Through that effort, it was determined that readily available access to information and data to advance equitable housing was greatly needed in the community.

Two years later, with the support of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Central Valley Health Policy Institute and University partners are developing the Fresno County Digital Housing Data Repository at Fresno State. The online resource will provide community members, local organizations and government agencies in the housing sector with a centralized way to research, collect and submit data and analyses on housing, and to find information on health outcomes associated with housing segregation.

“Through the repository, we strive to give the broader community a tool by which to interact with local housing and neighborhood data that can complement their ongoing efforts to tackle housing issues in the county and the region,” said Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner, co-assistant director of the Central Valley Health Policy Institute. “In addition, we want to fulfill one of the University’s goals to be community engaged and provide opportunities for faculty and students to interact with the community on issues that are relevant.”

The repository will be developed and hosted through the Henry Madden Library and will be accessible through its website. Through the Madden Library’s efforts, narratives for data that link housing information to other social outcomes will be implemented to provide a clearer picture of what is happening geographically.

“The Henry Madden Library is committed to supporting the growth and development of collaborative partnerships by facilitating data analysis research,” said Dr. Delritta Hornbuckle, dean of the library. “This project is just one important example of that work.”

This will be the first digital housing data repository of its kind in the Central Valley. With the Valley experiencing a housing crisis, researchers felt it was important to have a local repository embedded in the community.

“The city of Fresno struggles with housing segregation and housing affordability among people of color, and enforcement of fair housing laws has always been weak,” said Dr. Amber Crowell, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, based on her research. “The area is rich in community-based data from stories to surveys, so the digital repository will draw that information together to give residents a means to fight for fair housing.”

The implementation of the repository has been a collaborative effort between the Central Valley Health Policy Institute, the Department of Sociology and the Madden Library. Both the Central Valley Health Policy Institute and the Department of Sociology have long been committed to housing issues. Through the repository, they hope opportunities for collaboration will also be expanded to students and faculty for research purposes.

“To make the most of the data and information that will be stored in the repository, we also need faculty and students to use the data to explore and research housing-related questions,” Crowell said. “For students, it will allow them to conduct data analysis and collection, but also to begin their own research and bridge the gap between their roles as students and as members of their community.”

Data collection for the repository is expected to begin by April. In order for the repository to succeed, collaboration among local researchers, community members and local organizations and agencies is vital, Pacheco-Werner said. An outreach meeting with organizations that would like to participate in the data sharing and demonstration projects will take place from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, March 13 at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute (1625 E. Shaw Ave, Suite 146).

To learn more about the digital data housing repository or the outreach meeting, contact Dr. Tania Pacheco-Werner at tpacheco@csufresno.edu