Focus for 2008/2009
As a consequence of the rapid residential development of rural areas adjoining Columbus to the west, and declining economic conditions in much of the county, Licking County has seen high rates of home foreclosures, straining an already tight and aging housing market. As we began the 2008-09 academic year, it appeared that foreclosures in 2008 would be up about 20% over 2007, passing the 1200-homes mark. (This prediction proved to be accurate.) To give a sense of comparison, this was about quadruple the number of foreclosures in 2000. Representatives of social service agencies, government officials and others with whom we partner pointed to needs associated with educational attainment and support for financial literacy, and action to help homeowners and renters stay in their homes.
The following are examples of service activities specifically undertaken in response to housing-related issues:
- A student intern developed a sequence of financial literacy lessons for children at the Salvation Army shelter and for youth at the YES Clubhouse. Interactive lessons challenged participants to develop an understanding of money, the relationship between job choices and income, and the role of savings in achieving long-term goals.
- Students in Denison’s Economics Honorary, Omicron Delta Epsilon, were trained to assist low-income wage earners in filing their annual taxes.
- Students in an upper-division Sociology course undertook a collaborative community-based research project with a local transitional housing agency to investigate whether its financial literacy education program affected clients' financial stability and self-sufficiency.
- Students in a First-Year Seminar assisted the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in rehabbing two houses. The campus Habitat for Humanity committee assisted with both rehab projects and also did fundraising and supported a nearby Habitat ReStore.
The Denison Venture Philanthropy Club donated $2500 to the Save Our Homes Task Force to organize a public event to bring homeowners in financial distress together with lenders, financial counselors, social service agencies and legal advocates. Students in the club leveraged their financial contribution with their labor, assisting in the planning and execution of the event.