Data Exercises

We will have three special data exercises this semester.  Each exercise focuses on a particular aspect of poverty and homelessness.  Each calls for teamwork as we solve a problem together.  The point of these exercises is not to come up with easy answers.  The point is for each team or team member to locate data that others might not find.   In class, we will then put all this data together to solve the problem we’ve posed.

The three exercises  are:

Due dates are listed on the Schedule page.
Turn the exercise write-ups in on Moodle AND bring a copy to class.

1. How much does it cost to live in the Redlands / San Bernardino area?

Imagine you are a single parent of a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, working at a minimum-wage job.  How much do you have to spend to keep your family housed?  What resources do you have available?

We will divide the labor of finding out and produce some answers.  Your assignment will be to investigate some segment of the budget and report what you found to the class.

Then we’ll ask:
— What if that job becomes part-time?
— What if someone becomes sick?
— What if there is a transit strike, or if one’s car dies?

2. How have local homelessness counts been carried out?  Which ones are the most accurate?  Which are likely to have undercounted the homeless, and by how much?

We will locate the last several years of Continuum-of-Care homeless counts in California, examining their methods and results.  We will figure out how to adjust the poorly designed counts to come up with a more realistic figure for the number of homeless in our region.

Your assignment is to locate and summarize one county’s count.  You should identify the counting method and describe its strengths and weaknesses.

3. What creative things are various organizations doing?

Singly or in pairs, class members will investigate an organization that is doing something creative to help homeless people and/or end homelessness.  Several such organizations are mentioned in the books we read.  Others are mentioned in Kenan Heise’s Book of the Poor.  Students may propose other groups, both local and nationally.

After investigation, you will write a summary of your groups’ aims, organizational structure, accomplishments, and effectiveness.  You will report your results to the class.