Housing and Community Development Fellow
Master’s Candidate, Social Work
University of Memphis
Through the Housing and Community Development Fellowship, I have been given the opportunity to intern at Behavioral Health Initiatives, where I contribute to completing program evaluation for the Memphis Strong Families Initiative at the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center. The Memphis Strong Families Initiative (MSFI) operates from the founding beliefs of Housing First, which states that an individual or family’s essential need of shelter must be met before other problems are addressed. Based on this concept, MSFI was created to assist families in maintaining stable housing. With the collaboration of Community Alliance for the Homeless, Promise Development Corporation, Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association, Tennessee Community Services Agency, the University of Tennessee Health and Science Center, the Plough Foundation, and other local non-profits, there have been 69 units of housing allotted to families in Memphis through this Initiative. The eligibility of this program includes being involved with the Department of Children’s Services, being homeless, having a family member with a disability, and being at or below poverty level. Based on this criterion, the majority of the MSFI families are vulnerable to domestic violence and trauma.
In addition to assisting with the program evaluation of this Initiative, I am doing supplementary research on risk factors for domestic violence in Shelby County and comparing it to the families of the MSFI. I am also researching trauma-based interventions, specifically those being implemented by the MSFI, such as trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and the Nurturing Parenting Program. I plan to explore the creative ways in which the MSFI is providing housing and services to families at-risk for domestic violence and child abuse and neglect. As a part of my internship, I will submit presentation proposals to local/national conferences, specifically those addressing domestic violence and trauma. Through this project, I hope to better inform practice by my research on the trauma component of the Memphis Strong Families’ client base.