New Research Project on Affordable Housing Provides Opportunities for GSSWSR Students and Undergrads

Posted August 24th, 2009 at 12:41 pm.

GSSWSR's Sandy SchramBryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research’s Sandy Schram is partnering with the Women’s Community Revitalization Project (WCRP) on an initiative that will involve undergraduates as well as master’s and doctoral students in social work in a continuing research agenda to develop information that helps promote more affordable housing for the poor in Philadelphia.

“This project is uniquely Bryn Mawr in that our undergraduate students will be collaborating not only with their academic peers but with master’s students, Ph.D. candidates, and me on something that could have an immediate impact on the way the city of Philadelphia approaches important public policy,” says Schram.

Students who are interested in participating have a number of options, including the Praxis program, summer internships, or independent studies. Students will be working on research for the most part, although helping with publicizing research and ensuring that it contributes to the policy process will be part of the project as well. For more information, students should e-mail Schram at

This initiative grows out of a prior project in which Schram, with the assistance of Corey Shdaimah, Ph.D. ’05, and Roland Stahl Ph.D. ’08, produced a report for the WCRP and the Philadelphia Affordable Housing Coalition that played a role in helping create the city’s new Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The trust earmarks funding for both new rental housing and repair of existing owned homes

According to the research done by Schram and his colleagues, Philadelphia leads major U.S. cities in the percentage of families below the poverty line that own their own homes (often without mortgages), with many of the homes in a dilapidated condition. The researchers postulated—and the WCRP advocated—that increased funding for repair of these homes could be a critical and effective antipoverty strategy in Philadelphia.

A book based on that research, entitled Change Research: A Case Study in Housing Advocacy and Social Work Research, co-authored by Schram, Shdaimah and Stahl, demonstrates how research and advocacy can work together and is forthcoming from Columbia University Press. It is slated to appear in 2010.

Schram has been a visiting professor for the last 13 years at Bryn Mawr’s Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research. He also teaches undergraduate sociology courses at Bryn Mawr and political-science courses at both Bryn Mawr and Haverford. He is co-author of the upcoming book Disciplining the Poor: Neoliberal Paternalism and the Persistent Power of Race. Much of his recent research has focused on the role of race in welfare reform policy.

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