The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development

The Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development seeks to address the problems of persistent and concentrated urban poverty and is dedicated to understanding how social and economic changes affect low-income communities and their residents. Based in Cleveland, the Center views the city as both a tool for building communities and producing change locally, and as a representative urban center from which nationally-relevant research and policy implications can be drawn.
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Senior Researcher Beth Anthony Talks to WCPN on Combating Lead Poisoning

Jun 2 2015

wcpn_rgb_mediumElizabeth Anthony, Ph.D., a senior research associate at the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, spoke with 90.3 FM WCPN for “Going Back To School To Fight Lead Poisoning” on May 27, 2015. Dr. Anthony explained the urgency in getting young children exposed to lead poisoning into programs to help them.

While preventing lead poisoning is the foremost goal, it’s urgent to get those children at risk into preschool programs that can aid their development as well as educate their families into helping prevent further exposure. High blood lead levels in children can correspond with less brain density in certain areas affecting the development of behavior, judgement, language, and more.

“We do want families who have a child with this extra risk to understand what that extra risk could mean to that child and why there’s an even greater urgency for them to seek out the programs for their child and get the extra help,” said Rebekah Dorman, who heads Cuyahoga County’s Invest in Children, a partner of the Poverty Center.

“The gains that are being made by those kids with an elevated blood lead level above five aren’t enough to put them on track with their peers who didn’t have, who didn’t show up in our lead data,” Dr. Anthony explained. High quality preschool programs are mitigating but not eliminating the programs caused by lead poisoning.

“Maybe we should start thinking about it as a brain injury like we would other types of brain injury where we don’t accept the fact that the damage can be done and there’s nothing we can do about it,” Anthony also said.


Gillian Marshall’s study to analyze link between neighborhoods and cancer screenings

May 4 2015

marshallCan neighborhood factors influence whether older residents have access to cancer screening information and testing? Gillian L. Marshall, PhD, assistant professor of social work at the Mandel School, plans to find out.

“We want to clarify assumptions that people with low incomes are less likely to receive or be recommended for cancer screenings,” she said.

Marshall will analyze data from 650 residents 65 and older in Cleveland, upstate New York and South Florida about communication experiences with their doctors. They participated in the five-year, $1.3 million National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute study, “Health Care Partners in Cancer Prevention and Care among the Aged.”

In the study, half the participants were randomly selected to participate in “Speak Up,” an intervention to improve doctor-patient communication through verbal and written information with instructional films at centers operated by the federally funded Area Agencies on Aging. The other half were encouraged to volunteer in a community project.

The researchers contacted all participants at three different points in the project: at the beginning, at two months and at 12 months. They answered questions about access to cancer screening information and tests and their experiences communicating with their doctors.

Marshall’s research project is part of a larger study led by Eva Kahana, PhD, Distinguished University Professor of Sociology and the Pierce T. and Elizabeth D. Robson of the Humanities and the director of the Elderly Care Research Center.

Kahana’s study mainly focused on improving patient-doctor communication about cancer screening. The goal of Marshall’s new study, which received $198,666 from the National Cancer Institutes, will examine what neighborhood-wide factors help or prevent people from getting these important medical tests.

Because of health disparities in poorer neighborhoods, Marshall said she wants to find out if residents in these areas have less access to information and screenings for breast, prostate, colon or skin cancers.

The association between characteristics of neighborhoods where older people live and access to health care continues to be a growing public concern, Marshall said, and lack of access to information widens the health gap.

Geocoded information will be completed by Tsui Chan, programmer analyst at the Mandel School’s Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development, and data analysis will be completed by Marshall and Jeong Lee, PhD, of the Elderly Care Research Center.

“Together, we hope this information will provide a new picture on who has access to health information,” Marshall said.

Dismantling the Towers: Mark Joseph in Chicago Reporter

Mar 24 2015

Mark Joseph is ChicagoReporter_Winter2015_cover_72dpifeatured in the Chicago Reporter article “Dismantling the towers” about the transformation of the public housing complex Henry Horner Homes into the mixed-income development named Westhaven Park. Joseph and his colleagues at the University of Chicago have researched Westhaven Park and similar mixed-income developments in Chicago for over 10 years. Their research has shown that tensions between public housing residents and homeowners tend to be stoked by limited interaction. These types of tensions are referred to as us vs. them dynamics. Instead of leading to exchange of resources or job opportunities these restricted “hi, bye” interactions perpetuate a sense of exclusion and isolation between higher-income and lower-income residents. Joseph says it is easier to build housing than community within mixed-income developments. Despite the challenge, building community is an essential component of the developments’ ultimate success.