Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 4, Page 11
Summer 1994
Students corner data for public policy decisions

     From gathering data on recreational fishing and hunting to
preserving threatened historic structures through architectural
drawings and photographs, graduate students in the College of Urban
Affairs and Public Policy provide expertise to Delaware public
agencies and community organizations.
     The Public Service Assistantship program, a partnership between
the Delaware General Assembly and the University of Delaware, allows
students to work with faculty and staff on projects of interest to
local communities and the state. These same projects are often the
starting point of analytic papers and theses. Now in its ninth year,
the program operates with funds provided by the General Assembly.
     As many as 30 projects have been undertaken in one academic year,
and some projects may involve multi-year research commitments.
     For example, beginning in 1986, Steven Peuquet of the college's
Center for Community Development and graduate student Pamela Leland
began research into homelessness. A statewide survey of emergency
shelter providers, their clients and persons seeking temporary housing
revealed that homelessness in Delaware is related to poverty, a lack
of affordable housing, mental health problems or a combination of the
     Members of the college subsequently helped develop a
comprehensive housing assistance strategy for the city of Wilmington
and served on various state commissions. The early work on
homelessness and housing led to a study of the homeless in Wilmington
in 1991 and 1992, continuing today with a focus on homelessness and
substance abuse.
     Leland, Delaware '92 Ph.D., says that her work on the early
research project "was a major shaping force" of her dissertation on
homelessness and post-industrial society.
     Other recent projects include developing a personnel practices
and procedures manual for the city of Lewes; assessing credit access
for low-income and minority households; examining the processing of
civil cases in Superior Court; and organizing a conference on the
future of the state's telecommunication infrastructure.
     "The Public Service Assistantship program creates the opportunity
for faculty and students to work together in research to improve
public policy," says director John Byrne, "while the project work
acquaints them with the real-world demands of public policy."