Like many urban cities, Washington DC has significant problems with public housing, unhealthy housing stock, and landlords hidden behind a series of LLCs with unnamed owners. Children’s Law Center is the largest civil legal services organization in DC and home to Healthy Together, one of the oldest and largest medical-legal partnerships in the country. Healthy Together serves low-income children and families with specific target areas in some of the most underinvested communities in DC. Families are referred to Healthy Together with a variety of health-harming legal needs, including housing problems. We would like to gain a better understanding of geographic patterns between: residences of children and families referred to our medical-legal partnership for health-harming legal needs; unhealthy housing, neighborhood-level characteristics, and apartment complex ownership. Our goal is to improve our ability to advocate in both individual-level legal representation and city-wide policymaking.
Healthy Together receives more than 1400 referrals and handles more than 500 cases each year. Our data includes residential location for families referred to Healthy Together, type of legal issue reported, specific substandard housing problems, adverse parties (landlords, property managers, etc.), type of housing, housing subsidies, etc.
We also have claims data from managed care organizations that provide data on emergency room use and hospitalizations and associated costs. There are also a number of public data sources we believe would be useful including subsidy information from the DC Preservation Fund, Housing insights data, Open Data DC, Census data on neighborhoods.
We are also exploring the possibility of scraping data from the DC Housing Conditions Court’s filings (some of which would be in our internal database, as we file in this court, but others would not be in our system).
We anticipate this project to be primarily data exploration and visualization. These data have not been mapped in DC and we know little about the patterns that may emerge. We envision several maps that incorporate various pieces of data would be produced. We also would like interactive maps and perhaps a slide deck to use to highlight key findings and patterns that would assist, particularly as we publicize findings and work with partners to further city policies and improve various systems. We could imagine the need for some cluster analyses, however, we are excited to work with others who specialize in this field to explore the data and determine the best analyses for the available data.
Children’s Law Center and Healthy Together are outcome-driven and invest heavily in data to inform our practice, improve our ability to serve our clients and create equitable systems in the communities we serve. Currently, we are working with many partners in the city to advocate for new policies, systems and a new housing agency to bring a public health lens to public housing throughout the city. However, there is a lack of data reflecting the current state of housing in DC because the government agencies lack inspection and enforcement data. The final maps and associated reports will be used as a resource for our organization, for our stakeholders and community partners, and in our efforts to reform the housing agency and its practices. Shedding light on responsible parties would also be beneficial to CLC’s overall healthy housing work and can inform the direction of our housing advocacy in the future.