USI Faculty present national survey results on homeownership impact


Five USI faculty and staff members traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to present findings of a national survey conducted for Habitat for Humanity International (HFHI) Women Build during an International Women’s Day symposium in March.

Completed under the auspices of the USI Center for Applied Research (CAR), results from the survey reflect feedback from more than 320 Habitat homeowners – more than 85 percent of them women – from 44 U.S. cities. The responses indicate that the impact of homeownership significantly increases homeowners’ self-esteem, well-being, overall family health, and neighborhood pride.

Presenters included Elissa Bakke, assistant director of CAR; Dr. Katherine Draughon, executive director of the Office of Planning, Research, and Assessment (OPRA); Dr. Marie Opatrny, associate professor of social work; Dr. Iris Philips, associate professor of social work; and Dr. Ronda Priest, chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice Studies.

Dr. Matt Hanka,assistant professor of political science and director of the Master of Public Administration Program, and Dr. Mohammed Khayum, dean of the College of Business, also contributed to the research, but were unable to attend the symposium.

“The HFHI survey was a unique opportunity for faculty and staff from a variety of departments on campus to work together and produce a product with significant impact,” said Draughon. “This project will help put USI on the national radar as a university known for quality community engagement.”

The presentation sparked positive audience feedback and raised questions that could potentially lead to future research opportunities. These opportunities can explore ways HFHI can continue to increase impact and create greater efficiency in the organization.

“Habitat will be able to use this new information to gain additional donors and funding, recruit more volunteers, and provide additional resources to our affiliates,” said Lisa Marie Nickerson,associate director of HFHI’s Women Build program.

After the presentation, the team had the opportunity to visit Americus, Georgia to see HFHI headquarters and the Global Village and Discovery Center, a six-acre village where guests can learn how HFHI works in partnership with families all over the world to eliminate poverty housing.

“Walking through the Global Village and Discovery Center helped me truly understand the struggles families have in many countries just to have adequate housing,” said Bakke. “To call these living conditions ‘housing’ is really an overstatement. I am so honored to have a small role in assisting Habitat in their mission to eradicate substandard housing and improve peoples’ lives. I look forward to continuing collaborations with the organization.”