The Denver Metro area and Boulder county have been experiencing extensive increases in housing costs. Many residents living in or seeking affordable housing options experience marginalization and stigmatization. House-less-ness is also on the rise, as low-income individuals who cannot afford housing turn to living out of vehicles, sleeping in shelters, or on the streets. Several non-profit and municipal organizations are working to address the rising cost of housing and seeking to provide more affordable options to low and middle-income residents. These organizations include the City of Boulder-Housing Division, Coalition of Manufactured Home Owners Boulder, Thistle Communities, Boulder Housing Coalition, and Boulder Housing Partners. Despite these efforts, the need for affordable housing options far exceeds availability. The Boulder Affordable Housing Research Initiative (BAHRI) works in partnership with these organizations to gather useful information about the experiences of individuals living in and seeking affordable housing.
BAHRI seeks to use qualitative research methods such as surveys/questionnaires, interviews, focus groups, and oral histories along with geographic visualization such as maps to illuminate experiences of housing insecurity in Boulder and Metro Denver. Our community partners are interested in understanding the experiences of low- and middle-income individuals/families in order to improve service delivery and to challenge the social stigma associated with affordable housing. This project provides CU-Boulder graduate/undergraduate students with training and opportunities to gather data through collaborative research processes with community partners. BAHRI’s goals correlate with CU-Boulder’s strategic imperatives: shaping tomorrow’s leaders, being a top innovation university, and positively impacting humanity. BAHRI helps shape leaders by mentoring students to develop critical thinking, cross-cultural communication, research, and project management skills.