Building Wealth in Communities of Color: Deborah Mitchell (Housing Studies) Begins Internship at HOMECo

PhD candidate Deborah Mitchell (Housing Studies) received a 2015 Internship Award from the University of Minnesota Graduate School to intern this summer at Housing Opportunities Made Equitable Collaborative (HOMECo).

Mitchell has lived in St. Paul since 1993, and has always had a passion for community engagement. She began to think critically about racial disparities and services available to families in need when she was the program manager of the Wilder Foundation ROOF Project collaboration. As she researched best practices and asked families in her program about service delivery, she quickly realized that though families of color were disproportionately homeless, there was a lack of research on culturally specific services in supportive housing. Her next step? Pursuing a doctorate in Housing Studies at the College of Design.

This summer, she is interning for the Housing Opportunities Made Equitable Collaborative (HOMECo), which consists of Aurora/St. Anthony Neighborhood Development Corporation, Build Wealth Minnesota, Camphor Fiscally Fit Center, and Model Cities. These agencies have over 80 years of on-the-ground experience in economic development, housing, and policy reform to address housing and wealth disparities affecting communities of color in the Twin Cities.

Mitchell worked with several HOMECo organizations and individuals when she managed the ROOF Project, and she looks forward to deepening and expanding her relationships. “It is very exciting to work with this group. All the members are very compassionate about their community, and are trying to figure out how to build wealth in communities of color.”

The collaborative bases their initiatives on the community capitals framework, which outlines six intersecting capitals—built, cultural, human, natural, political, and social—needed for a model community. Mitchell will use the same framework for her PhD dissertation. During her internship, she will collect and review literature on the framework, compare the core values of the collaboration members, and identify the analysis and measures she’ll need to apply and test the theory.

Her long-term goal is to teach at a college or university. “I have always believed that on the journey of life you must give back to those coming after you, ‘for to those whom much is given much is expected.’ I am confident that combining my compassion for families, my housing work, and research will solidify and combine my capabilities in academia and community.”


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