Lessons Learned, and The Next Step

Things have been a little slow recently as far as research goes. Already I’ve realized I have learned some valuable lessons from this process that I wouldn’t have learned so quickly otherwise. One lesson is that many professors do not respond to emails during the summer. This is probably something I should have assumed and something very basic that I failed to consider prior to the research. It is unfortunate because going into this I had thought certain professors would be available to me as resources, but this is not the case. Also, I’ve realized how fragmented city governments can be, with employees having their focus on very specific topics rather than broader ones. This makes it difficult when trying to get evaluations from them. Their focus is so small that they have no real view point on how broader issues can be improved (in my case, how to reduce the number of people in need of public housing in the Williamsburg area).  Perhaps most importantly, I have learned things never go as you planned.  Rather than doing initial research and then communicating with government officials, my research has been ongoing. As I meet new people I am asking myself new questions, for example, “What contractors were involved in constructing the low income housing sites and what was their motive in doing so?”

I finally got a book in the mail titled Where the Other Half Lives. This was seriously back ordered and something I intended to read at the beginning of the summer. It’s based on the book How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis, and I’m not entirely sure how helpful this book will prove to me yet, but I am looking forward to getting further along in it. I am leading a pre-orientation trip starting today through Saturday, so hopefully with a little reading every day I will be done with it by the end and I will find it useful in providing me with some background knowledge on low-income housing and how others have approached the issues involved.  JaLauna Burton, the Public Housing Manager in Williamsburg, recently got in touch with me asking for a statement from me regarding my week-long visit at the public housing sites during their Free Lunch Program. I am curious as to what she intends on doing with it and whether my feedback will provide good insight for them. My next step in research, besides finishing this book, is to get in touch with Habitat from Humanity to see what kind of impact they have made her and their outlook on the housing situation. Also, I intend on trying to find a government official, perhaps of higher rank, that I could talk with to see what they are doing to aid the housing crisis.