The price fluctuations in the housing market over the past two decades have sparked interest among researchers to better understand the relationship of home values and various health-related measures. Motivated by this, the Center for Data Solutions at the University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville has paired with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, Jacksonville to examine disparities in home equity in the neighborhoods adjacent to and surrounding the UF Health Jacksonville campus. The researchers are looking at home values in Eastside, Mid-Westside, Springfield, Lackawanna and Mixon Town.
The two organizations have been studying a database encompassing more than 100 data points about residential parcels in the five neighborhoods. They have looked at each home’s distance from schools, parks, health care facilities, grocery stores and a wide variety of other indicators to develop an unbiased algorithm that could be used by property appraisers, mortgage lenders and tax assessors to assign a fair value to each property.
“This is a very unique study for us,” said Jennifer Fishe, MD, director of Center for Data Solutions and assistant professor of emergency medicine at the UF College of Medicine – Jacksonville. “While we typically work on research that directly relates to patient care, this project focuses on how home equity and health and wellness are related.”
LISC needed data that would verify what they see and hear daily from the community in those neighborhoods, according to Kristopher Smith, community development program officer at LISC.
“We need to understand the potential disparities in home equity from one neighborhood to another,” said Smith. “And also, what’s generating those disparities. Then we can design interventions that improve the home’s resilience and value for future generations.”
For example, if the LISC and Center for Data Solutions team discovers home repair is an area that affects home appraisal, LISC can hold workshops for homeowners on home repair tips. If proximity to grocery stores is associated with increased home value, LISC can help residents advocate for retailers to open stores in their area.
Researchers have learned that some parcels in the Springfield neighborhood have the same objective characteristics as the other four neighborhoods. However, home prices in Springfield are on the rise, while prices in the other areas are stagnant.
“Based on what we’ve learned so far, there may be systemic bias in algorithms used by property appraisers and mortgage companies that are playing a factor in the varying home equities. Home values could drive retailers and other companies to move or expand to certain areas, which in turn could help improve the health and wellbeing of the residents in these communities,” said Ann-Marie Knight, vice president of Community Engagement and chief diversity officer at UF Health Jacksonville, who brought the two organizations together for this collaboration. “By understanding and addressing social determinants of health, including the built environment and property values, we can further our work in creating healthier communities in Jacksonville and beyond.”
“By correlating what we know now about home equity, we can work toward addressing systemic barriers and see where and how we’re making a difference,” said Fishe. “This is where it gets really exciting.”
LISC is uniquely positioned to create neighborhood-based solutions to address disparities in home equity and support family and community stability. LISC’s national housing team will scale the initiative from site to site, while its policy team will translate lessons into advocacy to improve access to generational wealth across the country.
Visit med.jax.ufl.edu/research/center-data-solutions to learn more about the Center for Data Solutions and how it supports investigators in conducting innovative and transformative health science research.
Associate Medical Director, Pediatric Emergency Medicine; Director, Center for Data Solutions