Funding to Help TSU Students, Professors Promote Fair Housing Practices in Tennessee

Dr. Joan Gibran
Dr. Joan Gibran

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Housing discrimination is a serious problem in the United States, and students and professors at Tennessee State University will soon be part of a program to promote fair housing practices in the middle Tennessee area.

As part of a $1.7 million federal grant awarded to Tennessee, TSU will receive nearly $100,000 as a result of a grant proposal submitted by three professors in the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs.  The funding will allow TSU to incorporate fair housing education and research into the Urban Studies curriculum, as well as partner with state, local government and nonprofit organizations in promoting fair housing.

According to Dr. Joan Gibran, assistant professor of Urban Studies and principal investigator of the TSU grant, the funding will also help prepare students for future fair housing careers and provide them with internships in organizations involved in battling housing discrimination.

“This will be accomplished through engaged learning, collaborative housing education outreach, research, and knowledge sharing,” said Gibran.

She said “engaged learning” activities will include five paid internships with partner organizations during which interns will develop fair housing professional skills by participating in educational, research and outreach activities, as well as knowledge sharing with the professional community.

TSU faculty and students will also collaborate with partner organizations through workshops and other educational events aimed at reducing the barriers to fair housing choice in Metro Nashville.

“This grant is part of our College mission,” said Dr. Michael Harris, dean of the College of Public Service and Urban Studies. “We at the College are focused on educating learners who lead, serve and make a difference in our communities. This grant will allow us to continue to develop an intentional curriculum in Urban Affairs that will provide our students a meaningful collaborative learning experience.”

He said research from the grant would impact the lives of many in the community through better fair housing policies and implementation.

TSU will collaborate with the Metro-Davison Housing Authority, the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, and the Tennessee Fair Housing Council to identify fair housing learning objectives to be addressed in the curriculum, as well as develop performance measurement for the program, according to Gibran.

“We will be working with the TSU office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement to develop structured service learning activities with our community partners,” she said.

Curriculum changes are expected to begin rolling out in fall 2014, Gibran added.

Assisting Dr. Gibran on the project as co-principal investigators are Dr. Cara Robinson, and Dr. Kimberly Triplett, both assistant professors of Urban Studies.

Funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the $1.7 million is part of a $38.3 million grant awarded to 95 fair housing organizations and other non-profit agencies in 38 states and the District of Columbia, to reduce housing discrimination.

Other agencies in Tennessee receiving funding are the Tennessee Fair Housing Council, which will use these funds to combat housing discrimination in Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

Also sharing in the Tennessee grant is West Tennessee Legal Services for two separate projects.

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