To begin our research on neighborhood investment, we met with community partner from the Southwest and Behind the Rocks Neighborhood Revitalization Zone Association. Based on this meeting we crafted a detailed research plan which laid out the project’s purpose and goals.
We began by analyzing two main data sources: the U.S. Census and the American Communities Survey. We supplemented this by looking at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Open Communities Alliances, the department of Housing & Urban Development, and data from the city of Hartford tax assessor’s database. We used Social Explorer to generate maps and graphics. We focused on several variables used as a proxy to measure the impact of neighborhood investment: housing, school quality, transportation, median income, and education level. Additionally, we analyzed cases and reports from historical and archival sources.
Although we have each been able to collect data on our specific variables, we ran into some obstacles as a team. For starters, some of the data that we needed, like blueprints of investment projects and budgets, were either confidential or online sources listed conflicting answers. We started our project with the intention of doing a combination of focus groups and interviews to hear directly from the community. However, recruitment was extremely difficult to get started, and many participants were still uncomfortable with in-person interviews during the pandemic. In addition, some of the people that we planned on speaking to were high up in the Harford legal system or investment funding, and we found them difficult to contact or get a meeting with. That being said, we would be able to draw more precise conclusions and have a more well-rounded approach if we had additional time to complete the project. A project as complex as ours should be allotted at least a year, which would allow time to properly recruit participants and maneuver through the hoops required to meet with some of the local higher-ups.