Volume 52   Number 3 Summer 2019

Regional Network News

Edited by Scot Evans – Regional Network Coordinator

Doesn’t it sometimes feel like the world is on fire? Like our democracy is on its last legs? Like everyone’s gone mad? Well, that may be so, but there are a lot of great things happening in our SCRA regions across the globe – check out the latest news from the Western and Midwest regions of the U.S. Not seeing updates from your region here? Check out your SCRA region information on the website and contact the regional coordinators to see what is going on in your region and how you can engage (


News from the Western Region U.S.



Greg Townley, Portland State University

Mariah Kornbluh, California State-Chico

Rachel Hershberg, University of Washington Tacoma


David Gordon, University of California, Santa Cruz

Sam Larsen, University of Washington-Tacoma


Society for Community & Action Research: Policy Mini Grant

Mariah Kornbluh Ph.D., California State University, Chico

Lindsay Matthews M.A., California State University, Chico

Lauren Kohler, B.A., California State University, Chico

Amber Rubalcava, B.A., California State University Chico

Ana Bernardino, B.A., California State University Chico

Alisandra Macias, California State University, Chico

Gustavo Moreira, California State University, Chico

Introduction: Homelessness has become an increasingly common phenomenon, prompting the need for collaboration between policy makers, service providers, community organizations, and most importantly homeless individuals themselves, to identify the strategies and supports that effectively serve this unique high-need population. While most often associated with urban areas, homelessness is rapidly growing in rural communities as well (First, Rife, & Toomey, 1994). In a rural area in Northern California, the Homeless Point in Time Survey (PIT) yielded a 76% increase in sample size as compared to the 2015 PIT (CoC, 2017). The local city council has struggled to balance limited resources, varying political agendas and a lack of concrete data in trying to find solutions to this complex issue. Funded through the Society for Community Research and Action Public Policy Mini-Grant, our community psychology research team explored potential environmental barriers for homeless individuals in accessing shelters, housing voucher opportunities, and needed support services. In particular, we explored: 1) what are barriers to accessing shelter services and use? and 2) what shelter or housing design characteristics promote feelings of safety and community?

Methods: This study consisted of a sequential mixed-method design. First, 100 surveys were conducted throughout the city (i.e. downtown plaza, bus stops, mall, shelters, etc.). Second, fifty-two qualitative interviews were conducted (i.e. local homeless shelter, a transitional housing apartment complex, in the downtown plaza, and on the outskirts of town). Data collection consisted of a collaboration between research team members, shelter staff, community liaisons, and housing insecure individuals. All researchers were given training on sensitivity with vulnerable populations, as well as human rights and dignity in research. Content coding was utilized to assess thematic prevalence across interviews. Two coders coded every transcript to ensure reliability in code application. Findings were shared (via member checks) with fourteen housing insecure individuals at a low-barrier shelter, and the Local Action Housing Team (N = 4) to ensure credibility.

Preliminary Findings: Survey findings indicated the following five factors as the most reported barriers to accessing housing services and supports: 1) limited transportation and distance of the shelter from other needed services (N = 27); 2) strict shelter requirements surrounding sobriety and not allowing pets (N = 21); 3) lack of available shelter services (N = 20); 4) lack of personal identification to access housing services (N = 20); and 5) mental health challenges (N = 18). Qualitative interviews further stressed the need for the following services: 1) expansion of services (i.e. a year-round low barrier shelter, tent cities, tiny villages, etc.); 2) transportation to available shelters; and 3) a county harm reduction program (see Table 1).


Qualitative interviews stressed the following shelter design recommendations: 1) social support programs (i.e. counseling, support groups) and community building activities (i.e. communal cooking, arts, and crafts), 2) a community advisory board to ensure safety amongst residents, 3) basic amenities (i.e. laundry, lockers, chargers, WIFI access, etc.), and 4) incorporation of nature (i.e. plants, communal garden, windows, etc.), and relaxation areas (i.e. meditation room, quiet areas, etc.).

Advocacy & Dissemination Efforts: Findings have been shared with the Greater Homeless Task Force (a coalition of health and social service professionals, community members, and individuals experiencing housing insecurity), and the Local Housing Action Team (a local non-profit working towards providing homes for housing insecure individuals). Members of our research team have also testified in front of City Council using data to advocate for the building of Simplicity Village (a tiny home community for elders experiencing housing insecurity) (see Figure 1). In addition, there has been growing debate around the building of a low-barrier shelter throughout the city. After witnessing the large amount of discourse surrounding homelessness online, our research team is working on disseminating myth busters (i.e. infographics) geared towards tackling online misperceptions and misinformation surrounding homelessness amongst college students and the local community (see Figure 2).


 Image2.JPGOn the right, Lauren Kohler testifying in front of City Council. On the left, Amber Rubalcava presenting to the Greater Homeless Task Force













First, R. J., Rife, J. C., & Toomey, B. G. (1994). Homelessness in rural areas: Causes, patterns, and trends. Social Work, 39(1). 97-108.

Countywide Homeless Continuum of Care. (2017). 2017 Homeless Point in Time Census & Survey Report. Housing Tools: REDACTED, CA.



Figure 1.


Figure 2.

News from the Midwest Region U.S.


Olya Glantsman, DePaul University

Amber Williams, National Louis University

Melissa Ponce Rodas, Andrews University

Tonya Hall, Chicago State University


Naz Chief, National Louis University

Moshood Olanrewaju, National Louis University


What’s Happening in the Midwest?

Tonya Hall, Ph.D.

Chicago State University

This academic year (2018-19) certainly has been and continues to be a fortunate time for SCRA members passionate about community psychology to be in the Midwest! At least five SCRA-related events need to be underscored.  First, the 42nd Midwest ECO Conference was held at the University of Illinois Chicago in October 2018 with keynote speaker Dr. Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar, panelists, presenters, and an outstanding student-led team of organizers. This conference served as an impetus for sharing thought-provoking community psychology research in the Midwest during this time. If your university is interested in serving as an ECO host, please reach out to Melissa Ponce.

Second, the SCRA Midwest region just hosted the SCRA-affiliated meeting as a part of the 91st Midwestern Psychological Association conference that was held at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois on April 11-13, 2019.  More than 3,300 individuals attended the conference. Midwestern community psychology researchers including undergraduate and graduate students submitted approximately 50 well-prepared conference proposals, which were all accepted this year including 5 symposia, 15 roundtables, and 30 poster sessions. Student posters were rated by three judges and three poster winners, who served as first author for each poster, were selected and recognized at an informal SCRA dinner held at Exchequer restaurant. The poster winners will be announced on the SCRA listserv so stayed tuned. A record number of students, faculty, and staff attended this annual dinner, which provides members the opportunity to socialize and network with one another. The next MPA conference will be held on April 23-25, 2020 at the Palmer House a Hilton Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. Check out one of the pictures from the SCRA dinner event.


Third, the 17th SCRA Biennial Conference, “Making an Impact: Ecological Praxis: System Complexity, Cycles of Action and Extending our Metaphors with the Natural World,” was held on June 26-29, 2019 at National Louis University in Chicago, Illinois. We hope we saw you there sharing formally and informally the wonderful work that you are doing in the field of community psychology.

Fourth, the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention will be held August 8-11, 2019 in Chicago. APA Division 27 (SCRA) will partner with APA Divisions 7, 37, 43, and 44 to host a pre-convention workshop, “Setting a New Agenda for the Psychology of LGBTQ Youth and Emerging Adults” on Wednesday, August 7, 2019. According to an email sent via the SCRA listserv by Dr. Jean Hill (, “Registration fees will be $30 for students and community members and $70 for professionals and faculty. Through this Pre-Convention Workshop, six divisions of APA will be coming together to create a Statement of Priorities and an Agenda for Psychology of LGBTQ Youth and Emerging Adults. The Workshop will be held on the campus of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology (325 North Wells Street, Chicago, IL 60654). Workshop organizers gratefully acknowledge the support of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in hosting this event, and the Committee on Division/APA Relations in providing significant financial support. Learn more about the workshop by visiting or contact SPSSI Policy Director Sarah Mancoll.”        

The SCRA Midwest Regional Coordinators are actively recruiting another RC to serve for a three-year term. If you are interested or would like more information, contact Tonya Hall at Announcements and information for inclusion in future Midwest updates should be sent to Melissa Ponce-Rodas (  Remember to keep community psychology alive and well in the Midwest, nationally, and globally!

News from the Northeast Region U.S.


Monique Guishard, Bronx Community College (NY)

Justin Brown, LaGuardia Community College (NY)

Jameta N. Barlow, The George Washington University (DC)

Candalyn B. Rade, Penn State Harrisburg (PA)


Taylor Darden, University of Maryland at Baltimore County (MD)


Introducing the 2019 SCRA NE Student Coordinator

Taylor Darden is a third-year student in the Community Psychology Ph.D. program at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research and professional interests center on how social determinants (e.g., racial discrimination, racism, and SES) impact health inequities in marginalized communities, such as African-Americans and those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. She aims to advocate for health equity and make a positive change by using psychological, evidence-based research in this area to inform decisions and evaluation of policies and programs.

Survey (N = 100)


Reported %


Limited Transportation & Distance




Strict Shelter Requirements




Lack of Available Services




Lack of Personal Identification




Mental Health Challenges




Qualitative Interviews (N = 52)




Needed expansion of housing, and alternative housing services



“Tiny houses will help people reintegrate into society”

Transportation Support to Services



“Transportation is my largest barriers. I can’t afford a bus pass, and that means I can’t make it to fill out needed applications”.

Harm Reduction Program



“I have friends that use substances, and they need this support. This would benefit the entire community.”

Table 1

[1] Names were changed to predict the anonymity of the City, and County