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Collaboration through Data-based Iterative Workshops: A case study around homelessness in Maricopa County

Authors: Chelsea Dickson*, Arizona State University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: homelessness, collaboration, community partnerships, urban networks, data analysis
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Collaboration, and the intentional involvement of local community experts and organizations, is increasingly viewed as a necessary component in discussions of societal issues and effective and equitable possible responses. This is especially true of complex topics related to community resilience, which have much to gain from the inclusion of diverse, multidisciplinary, and cross-sectoral perspectives and areas of knowledge. This paper follows a case study of a collaborative effort regarding homelessness in Maricopa County, Arizona, as a way to explore methodologies and practicalities for how collaborations may be intentionally facilitated. It was a process that included the participation of eight community organizations, two government groups, and academics across four disciplines. The convenings were loosely structured around monthly workshopping events over the course of a year, to iteratively explore data provided by the participants and analyzed and presented by a team from the university, in a way designed to prompt discussion and garner new insights across perspectives. The group’s effort was consistently oriented toward considering potential drivers of homelessness that could enable preventative intervention, and toward the eventual creation of a useful tool that could be utilized by a variety of stakeholders to explore their unique organization’s questions. Here we present findings on the topic of homelessness in Maricopa County that came from this process, as well as reflect on the process itself, focusing on the methodology, what proved most effective, the challenges encountered, and recommendations for facilitating collaborative efforts.

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