Postdoctoral Scholar, Housing and Homelessness

Aug 31, 2020

Position: Postdoctoral Scholar, Housing and Homelessness

The Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative (HRAC) is an interdisciplinary research center at Portland State University dedicated to reducing and preventing homelessness and its negative impacts on individuals, families, and communities, with an emphasis on communities of color. The collaborative brings together the expertise and skills of each of Portland State University’s colleges and schools, and collaborates with people experiencing homelessness, advocates, service providers, city and county policymakers, and other stakeholders.

Position Summary

The Homelessness Research & Action Collaborative is recruiting a full-time postdoctoral scholar for a one-year position with an option to renew for a second year based on available funding.

The position’s expected start date is October 2020 and is based in Portland, Oregon, but with the option to work remotely for some or all of the position. The position is suitable for graduating doctoral students who are looking to gain research experience and further career development in either academic or applied settings. 

The postdoctoral scholar will work closely with HRAC faculty and staff and with community partners on data-driven research projects designed to address the causes of and solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis in Portland and surrounding communities. 

Duties will include assisting with and leading grant proposals, conducting or overseeing quantitative data analysis, co-authoring papers for submission to academic journals, report writing, and assisting in dissemination and outreach efforts. Additional responsibilities may include project management, cultivating community partnerships, and mentoring HRAC graduate students.

The scholar will expand and support the center’s work on identifying, analyzing, and evaluating policies and programs that address the root causes and contributing factors of homelessness. Envisioned future projects could include:

  • Identifying racialized barriers to accessing housing and homelessness services and homelessness prevention and resolution services
  • Examining how housing type and location relate to housing retention and other success metrics, including those defined by program participants
  • Evaluating recent policy changes to evictions policy and homelessness
  • Identifying how people move across and through various public assistance programs in addition to their geographic movement

There are also opportunities to create innovative ways to integrate qualitative data into conventional quantitative reporting standards for government partners. Final project determination depends on the interests and skills of the candidate, community partners, and funding opportunities. Because of the community-oriented nature of our work, the scholar will be expected to collaborate with appropriate partners.

In addition, ongoing applied research projects the scholar could contribute to include: evaluating a mobile permanent supportive housing program; Portland Street Response (an alternative model to policing response for 911 calls involving unhoused individuals); regional supportive housing projects and governance structures; and on-campus student support programs. We will also have ongoing studies about homelessness at PSU (students, staff, and community members) and government responses to unsheltered homelessness.

The scholar will report to HRAC Director Dr. Marisa Zapata and Research Director Dr. Greg Townley and work collaboratively with other HRAC faculty, graduate students, and staff.

Minimum Qualifications

Applicants must have a doctoral degree (PhD, DrPH, or equivalent) in a relevant social science, technical, or interdisciplinary field such as Public Policy, Urban Planning, Epidemiology, Public Health, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, or Statistics by the start of the position (or at a minimum, the final defense date must be scheduled). The successful candidate must have experience in all aspects of the design, methods, and evaluation of research projects pertaining to housing and homelessness, with a focus on housing or deep knowledge about housing or land-use policy. Strong quantitative analytical and writing skills are required, as is a demonstrated commitment to racial equity. In particular, candidates must be familiar with a variety of techniques for disaggregating data to advance racial equity.

Preferred Qualifications

Methodological skills in cross-sectional and longitudinal analysis, with a focus on large datasets and analysis of housing policy and health services data aggregated across a variety of sources, is highly preferred. Preference will be given to those with demonstrated experience working with interdisciplinary research teams in collaboration with community stakeholders. Preference will also be given to those with previous experience applying for and obtaining research funding, and those who have demonstrated success in publishing research in top-tier academic journals.

Key Cultural Competencies

  1. Creates an environment that acknowledges, encourages and celebrates differences.
  2. Functions and communicates effectively and respectfully within the context of varying beliefs, behaviors, orientations, identities and cultural backgrounds.
  3. Seeks opportunities to gain experience working and collaborating in diverse, multicultural,and inclusive setting with a willingness to change for continual improvement.
  4. Adheres to all PSU's policies including the policies on Prohibited Discrimination & Harassment and the Professional Standards of Conduct. 

Compensation: The starting annual salary for this position ranges from $52,704 to $64,008 based on experience. The position will be for one year with an option to renew for a second year based on available funding. PSU’s excellent benefits package includes 95% premium paid healthcare; a generous retirement and vacation package; and reduced tuition rates for employee, spouse, or dependent at any of the Oregon Public Universities.

Questions: Dr. Marisa Zapata (mazapata@pdx.edu), Dr. Greg Townley (gtownley@pdx.edu)

To Apply: Please submit your application to the Portland State University employment website at: https://jobs.hrc.pdx.edu/postings/33199. The following materials will be required for your application:

  • Cover letter describing your scholarly interest and relevant experience
  • One page statement describing your commitment to racial justice and equity with specific examples of how this is demonstrated in your work
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Writing sample of 1 or more relevant manuscripts and/or writing sample (published or unpublished)
  • Three names of references who can speak directly to your research capacity including name, phone number, email, and relationship. Reference letters will be requested for finalists.

Applications must be submitted by September 6, 2020, and review of applications will begin immediately after this date.



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