From research question to legislation: How community-based research can foster social change

Thursday, June 2, 2016: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Galleria III (Hilton Portland)
Community-Based Participatory Research is an innovative and collaborative approach to working together with marginalized communities through the entire research process. CBPR not only provides information necessary to interpret the world—it also fosters the power, equity, and solidarity needed to change it. CBPR leverages the talents and experiences of a variety of stakeholders, breaking down privilege and bringing people together in the effort to identify issues most relevant to the community and create quality organizations, policies, and communities. Human service providers and HCH projects are uniquely positioned to be leaders in CBPR, offering both the expertise of service delivery, research and policy, as well as engagement with people most affected by poverty and marginalization. CBPR can be more than a joint research endeavor with a marginalized community: it can be the basis for legislative initiatives and advocacy efforts. In 2011, Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore embarked on a CBPR project on the intersection of homelessness, incarceration, and reentry. The project brought together the policy staff of HCH; graduate and undergraduate students; The University of Maryland School of Medicine Department of Epidemiology and Public Health; 20 local service providers as survey sites; and 24 members of BMore Housing for All, an advocacy group comprised of people currently and formerly experiencing homelessness. The results of the study were utilized subsequently by people experiencing homelessness and homeless service providers in advocacy efforts on a new piece of legislation during the 2012 Maryland Legislative Session called the Maryland Second Chance Act. The controversial bill was introduced for four years, and this past legislative session with the help of data and testimony by people experiencing homelessness passed in the Maryland General Assembly and went into effect this October. Advancing legislation related to homelessness, poverty, and inequality is most effective when there is strong data aligned with personal stories; engaging consumers in CBPR has proven to be effective not only in generating critical data to advance quality policy, but also in fostering consumer leadership and solidarity. This workshop will highlight the basic principles of CBPR; best practices of CBPR; discuss the process, opportunities, and challenges of developing and implementing a consumer-led CBPR project; funding opportunities for CBPR; and how to turn CBPR projects into springboards for legislative initiatives. In addition to the example above, this workshop will highlight lessons learned from two other CBPR efforts in Baltimore: a vacant housing study conducted by Housing Our Neighbors, a local advocacy organization led by people with the direct experience of homelessness; and a rent court study conducted by the Right to Housing Alliance. Workshop attendees will be given practical information on how they can replicate consumer-led CBPR projects in their own organizations and utilize the results of these projects to jointly advance social change in the areas of housing, health care, poverty, and inequality alongside people experiencing homelessness. In the spirt of working together, the workshop presenters include representatives of HCH and its partners both housed and homeless.
Lisa Klingenmaier, MSW, MPH (Assistant Director for Social Concerns, Catholic Charities of Baltimore)
Tony Simmons (Community Organizer, Right to Housing Alliance)
Adam Schneider, MA, MSW (Director of Community Relations, Health Care for the Homeless Baltimore)
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