University of Georgia MPA students assist Neighborhood Development Division with Housing Survey

The City of Valdosta’s Neighborhood Development Division has partnered with the Masters of Public Administration Program at the University of Georgia (UGA) to complete the 2021 Community Housing Survey.

The survey is done as part of the City’s process to complete a Community Revitalization Plan. A portion of that plan focuses on the housing stock in our community, and the only way to assess our housing stock is by surveying each parcel of local neighborhoods. The survey is essential because it also analyzes the overall quality of life by conducting a housing, economic, and job assessment. “It is important to gather this information because when we complete our Community Revitalization Report, it gives us a true picture of what our neighborhoods are like. You cannot say what is needed unless you have a true understanding of the current state they are in,” Said Neighborhood Development Coordinator and Community Protection Manager Vanassa Ross.

This process will take place Wednesday, May 26 through Friday, May 28, with members of the Neighborhood Development Division and graduate students from the Masters of Public Administration Program conducting the surveys on foot. Seeing as how these students focus on housing and community housing, neighborhood revitalization, and things of that nature, this partnership allows them to get in-field training, making it a win-win for everyone involved. “It would be challenging to get this done without these students. The benefit of these students is that their focus is neighborhood revitalization and municipal government—all of those areas of training fall in line with exactly what we are surveying. So it gives them hands-on experience and lets them see the information they would be seeing in their books or a lecture in person. For us, this is an invaluable service they are providing for us because most communities have to pay consultants to come down and to do this,” said Ross.

The group will be easily identified by their Neon City of Valdosta vest and will be using smart devices to document their findings. The entire survey will include 15 Valdosta Neighborhoods, which the Neighborhood development plans to complete on an ongoing basis over six months. However, the UGA students will help complete two of these neighborhoods during these three days.

The finding of this survey will not result in any penalties or fines to the homeowner. Instead, they will be used by Ross and her team to determine the next steps necessary to help revitalize and bring back jobs, services, and housing stock to these communities. This is done to make sure that these areas livable but that people will enjoy living there as well.

Ross wants to assure residents that this process will significantly benefit our community in the long run and ask that if they should see the team out to be kind and courteous. “These are students here to help, so if you see them out, we just ask that you give them the same southern hospitality that we give to everyone else in our community because they are providing us with a great service,” said Ross.

For more information on the 2021 Community Housing Survey, please contact the Neighborhood Development Division at 229-671-3617.