Thursday, April 26, 2018

URSP Student Hannah Amo Uncovers the Varying Perspectives Among Residents in Impoverished Communities in Washington D.C.

My personal affection for Washington, D.C. and its staple culture got me interested in this project. I grew up around the metropolitan area and have slowly watched the city’s transformation regarding commercial development and demographic changes. Instead of giving a diagnosis to the city as an outsider, I wanted to elevate the voices of the residents who have dwelled in the areas for generations.

My project focuses on sharing the perspectives, opinions and thoughts of local residents in Wards 7 and 8 in Washington, D.C. These wards have the highest levels of concentrated poverty. They are also the target of high levels of non-profit intervention. I believe it is important to understand the challenges, mentalities, beliefs, and behavioral patterns of people who are oftentimes spoken for by leaders that don’t live in the same areas. The questions I will be asking address attitudes towards topics such as: poverty alleviation, wealth building, gentrification, access to resources, traditional government welfare, and non-profit assistance.

This project relates towards my long-term goals, as I hope to one day develop a non-profit that will provide free and temporary housing for single mothers pursuing a post-secondary education or attending vocational school. I believe that it’s crucial to have an interpersonal connection to communities that have been seemingly disregarded when it comes to financial investments through free-enterprise.

On a weekly basis, I complete correspondence with non-profit organizations and a local D.C. liaison to schedule interviews with D.C. residents. I review poverty statistics by neighborhood and study behavioral byproducts associated with concentrated poverty. I also complete rigorous background research on non-profit services available to these wards. This includes completing informative interviews with program directors of grassroots non-profit organizations. The services I look into are geared towards financial empowerment, i.e. property ownerships, job placement, and financial literacy programs. 

Throughout this term, I have learned the importance of pursuing primary sources in order to complete revelatory research. When you put your boots on the ground and approach the marginalized people who have been dissected and reported on, you open the floodgates for new findings that could in response inform public policy.