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Thursday, March 23, 2023

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The Forum on Housing and Inequality in San Diego is the first project to come out of the School of Public Affair’s Institute for Innovative Governance. The Forum on Housing and Inequality in San Diego is the first project to come out of the School of Public Affair’s Institute for Innovative Governance.

SDSU Hosting Forum to Address Housing Crisis with Data

SDSU is hosting the forum on housing and inequality to help gather data and inform legislative decisions.
By Lainie Fraser

In an effort to help address San Diego’s housing crisis, San Diego State University is launching a forum focusing on Housing and Inequality. 

The day-long forum begins at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28 at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. Faculty, staff and representatives from different governmental and non-profit organizations will offer a variety of perspectives and expertise on the issue. Registration for the event is available online

The SDSU News Team recently sat down with Patricia Frosio, director of SDSU’s Institute for Innovative Governance, Sherry Ryan, director of the School of Public Affairs, and Nico Calavita, a former SDSU professor, to learn more about the Institute, the issue and the forum.

Q: The Forum on Housing and Inequality in San Diego is the first project to come out of the School of Public Affair’s Institute for Innovative Governance (IIG), correct?
Frosio: Yes, it was launched in the fall of 2018 and the goal of the IIG is to develop applied research that supports critical regional public policy challenges. We are looking to address research needs and data gaps to better assist decision makers. As we look at current pressing problems in our region,  policy decisions are often made without all the necessary information.

Q: How is this forum meant to help?

Ryan: The purpose of our Institute and this event, in particular, is to provide an avenue for practice-based knowledge in the region to feed into our academic research.  We are seeking to connect practitioners and academicians to help inform a research agenda that more immediately impacts decision makers. For this housing forum, we are bringing together practitioners from our region to help brainstorm a research agenda that will then be carried out by SDSU’s research faculty.  This ensures our academic work has the greatest potential for positive change. 

Calavita: The theme of the forum is housing inequality and it addresses the related ideas of housing unaffordability and social inequality in incomes. We will have speakers, myself included, who will discuss the overall issue and how these two pieces interact. This forum, we hope, will help inform policy changes in what we call the three Ps. Those are the protection of tenants, preservation of existing affordable housing and production of affordable housing. We hope keeping these three in mind through research will help inform policy decisions that address them.

Q: Why housing in San Diego and why now?

Frosio: Housing advocates talk a lot about the missing middle and there are entire groups that have formed to look at this issue, but when a reporter at the Voice of San Diego was trying to investigate this issue and look at the numbers she found that local governments are often not collecting housing information the same way, and often not collecting the information at all. How can we spend so much time and resources on developing public policy without having that information? This is a core topic the Institute is trying to address.  For this year, we are focused on housing.  

Q: Do you feel SDSU has a responsibility to help alleviate the housing crisis in San Diego?

Frosio: I would go further than the word responsibility, I would say duty.

Ryan: There are a lot of vested parties who have their own motivation, often focused on financial gain. As a university, SDSU is coming at this issue as a more neutral third party who holds the overall public good as a primary motivation. We want to use our expertise to create a more informed community and better policies. As a public university, our role is to foster education, innovation and growth. We are not necessarily doing this to publish academic papers or for financial gain; we are doing this to develop and apply research to a real issue in our region.

Calavita: Other schools and universities are using their position to help address and bring awareness to community issues. SDSU is well-positioned to play this role in our region.

Q: Have you thought about next steps?
Frosio: Right now, I am interviewing key stakeholders across the region and asking them what they think the three most pressing issues are in their community. I am then asking what’s at the root of these issues, and why haven’t these issues been solved or alleviated. Through this outreach process, we are hoping to select the next focus for the IIG.