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Robert L. Fischer, PhD
In the News
Jul 6 2016
The Atlantic interviewed Dr. Rob Fischer, co-director of the Poverty Center, for “How a House Can Shape a Child’s Future” on the Center’s recent study on the effects housing conditions have on academic performance. The report, Leveraging Integrated Data Systems to Examine the Effect of Housing and Neighborhood Conditions on Kindergarten Readiness – co-authored by Fischer with Claudia Coulton, Francisca Richter, Seok Joo Kim, and Youngmin Cho – compared literacy scores of thousands of Cleveland kindergartners with assessments on their housing. Findings showed a relationship between the amount of time children lived in tax delinquent, foreclosed, and speculator owned housing with kindergarten readiness.
Fischer told The Atlantic he believes the data indicates a need for public policy to look beyond only ending family homelessness and also examine housing conditions. “The discussion also needs to include getting people into better housing, instead of just being satisfied that they have an address.”
Atlantic applauded the scope of the the Poverty Center study which tracked all children entering kindergarten in the city’s public schools. However, Fischer pointed out that obtaining data from Cleveland’s private and charter schools as well as scores from tests beyond literacy would improve understanding the relationship between housing conditions and academic readiness.
One of the worst conditions arising from bad housing can be exposure to lead paint as about 40 percent of Cleveland kindergartners have tested positive for lead poisoning sometime in their lives. Dr. Fischer believes the easiest action cities can take to improve the lives of these children is to limit their exposure to housing with lead paint. Other studies conducted by the Poverty Center and other agencies have repeatedly shown the damage lead poisoning can have the brain development of children. “Together, it is devastating to see their effects,” Fischer said on the serious disadvantages the combination of lead poisoning and bad housing will give in a child’s early life which can continue to create problems further down the road.
Jun 3 2016
The latest edition of the Community Development Journal from Oxford University Press features the article “Using data to build community: exploring one model of geographically specific data use in the non-profit sector” co-authored by Dr. Rob Fischer, co-director of the Poverty Center, with Dr. Jeffrey L. Brudney and Allison Russell.
The article discusses the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to incorporate data assembled by non-profit organizations to help build communities. Additional findings show that while non-profits implement GIS to foster collaboration with other organizations, realizing and sustaining this outcome can continue to be a challenge.
(Jeffrey L. Brudney is the Betty and Dan Cameron Family Distinguished Professor of Innovation in the Non-profit Sector at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Editor in Chief of Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. Allison Russell is a doctoral student in social welfare at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice.)
May 12 2016
“The motivation to kill is both born out of desperation and opportunity,” explained Dr. Robert Fischer, Poverty Center co-director, to the Times-Picayune in “Why does New Orleans have more murders than similar cities? Experts search for answers” on May 11.
The article explores why New Orleans has a higher murder rate than cities of similar population and poverty level. For example, the population of Cleveland is larger and suffers from a slightly higher poverty rate but experiences fewer murders with a murder rate almost a third less than New Orleans in 2015.
Dr. Fischer believes that a connection between poverty and crime has been proven over time due to desperation and opportunity. “I think poverty drives both of those in a way because desperation makes you more likely to take risks and envision opportunity through a criminal act like homicide,” he said.