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Creating Jobs and Wealth in Distressed Michigan Communities

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Authors: Escarleth Cucurachi Ortega, Monica Guo, Peyton Jackson, Charlotte Peterson, Paige Smith


The MorningSide neighborhood on Detroit’s east side is well positioned to receive significant funding to upgrade its aging single-family housing stock. To receive such funding, a professional analysis of current housing conditions and needs is required. Three area nonprofit organizations, U-SNAP-BAC Nonprofit Housing Corporation, Habitat for Humanity Detroit and the MorningSide Community Organization have joined forces to request assistance from MSU students in the Urban and Regional Planning Program. 

Exterior building conditions of vacant and occupied houses across the 190-block neighborhood can be surveyed and compared to previous condition studies such as the Detroit  Residential Parcel Survey. Interior home repair needs can be estimated through resident interviews (random sampling), email questionnaires and focus groups.

Author Information

Dr. Zenia Kotval is a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). She is also a Fulbright Scholar and a former Lilly Teaching Fellow. Kotval served as a member of the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) and an ex-officio member of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) Governing Board from 2016-2021. As a professor and program director of the Urban & Regional Planning Program in the School of Planning, Design and Construction, she regularly teaches courses in economic development and planning practicum. Kotval’s scholarship interests are in community-based development, economic policy and planning, the changing structure and characteristics of local economies, and the impacts of community development strategies. With a strong, structured research, teaching and engagement agenda, she focuses on linking theory and practice with a special emphasis on local economic development, industrial restructuring and urban revitalization. As director of MSU Extension’s Urban Collaborators, Kotval’s service continues to be dedicated to making academic and professional expertise available to meet the needs of Michigan’s core cities. Throughout her years at MSU, she has integrated the world scale and the land grant mission into her scholarship. Kotval is an internationally recognized expert on economic development and community engagement, speaking frequently at national and international venues.

2024: MSU Urban and Regional Planning Practicum Course

Authors: Dr. Kotval and Community Partners

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