A Closer Look: CHIA Grantee Dr. Anthony Hood on Award-Winning Project

A Closer Look: CHIA Grantee Dr. Anthony Hood on Award-Winning Project

Anthony Hood, PhD, Assistant Professor in the UAB Collat School of Business, Department of Management, Information Systems and Quantitative Methods​ was one of this year's Community Health Innovation Award winners. His project, Inhabit Bush Hills, is a collaborative effort with his wife, Robin Hood. Inhabit Bush Hills is an effort to create a "Craigslist"–style database of empty and abandonded properties and their conditions in Birmingham's Bush Hills neighborhood. The project received $15,000 in funding from the Community Health Innovation Awards, sponsored in part by the UAB CCTS. 

Hood_Anthony.jpg InhabitBushHills.jpg
 Caption: Eric Jack, Dean of the UAB Collat School of Business, congratulates Dr. Anthony Hood and Robin Hood 

Next week, on Thursday, February 13, Dr. Hood will take part in the CCTS' Professional Skills Training Program when he co-presents a talk on "Team Science" with Dr. Grant Savage, also in the Collat School of Business. 
Dr. Hood spoke with the UAB CCTS about he and his wife's project, "Inhabit Bush Hills."

How did you hear about the CHIA awards?

Dr. Anthony Hood: Because innovation is a focal point of much my research, teaching and service activities, I try to stay abreast of anything related to innovation in and around UAB. I considered applying last year when I saw the emails via the Campus reporter and CCTS digest, but didn’t feel the timing was right.

What made you decide to apply for the awards?

As a trainee in the MHRC’s Health Disparities training program, I had been actively looking for an opportunity to explore my research, teaching and service interests in the health context. This seemed like a great way to do it. Moreover, our involvement with the neighborhood association and block watch group helps keep us current on the challenges and opportunities facing our community. 

Provide a short description of your project or the idea behind it, and why you felt it was well suited for the CHIA process?
    1. As with many of the 99 neighborhoods in the City of Birmingham, the Bush Hills neighborhood faces a number of challenges such as overgrown lots and foreclosed and abandoned homes. These factors threaten the overall health of our community and neighbors. Vacant properties pose a public safety hazard by being a potential safe haven for criminals, arsonists and truant children. They also have a negative impact on property values. Living next to a vacant property in many ways can be more undesirable than living next to a property occupied by a bad neighbor.
    2. Our project offers a solution to the community health concerns caused by vacant properties in the form of an asset management system. We take the approach that one cannot manage what is not measured--and what gets measured gets accomplished. To our knowledge, there is no central reporting agency that maintains accurate and reliable data regarding the number of vacant properties in our neighborhood, who owns them, why they are vacant, or owners’ intentions regarding the future of the property. Moreover, of those properties that are occupied, valid data is missing regarding whether the property is occupied by the property owner or someone else (e.g. renters, extended family, etc). We believe this dearth of information perpetuates vacancy and hinders efforts of our neighborhood stakeholders and community servants such police, fire, medical, public health, neighborhood associations, education board, and city council members. We want to help these members serve us better.
    3. We proposed the development of a Community Asset Inventory database for the Bush Hills Community. This database will be a complete listing of all properties located in our neighborhood accompanied with information such as: Jeff County Property ID #, vector coordinates, picture of property, owner’s name, address, telephone, email, disposition of property (i.e. owned, rented, lot, for sale), and occupant’s information.
What will the CHIA funding allow you to do that you weren't able to do otherwise on your project?
The CHIA funds will allow us to purchase subscriptions to data sources and allow us to hire research assistants to help with gathering, coding, analyzing and reporting data. We hope to increase interaction and engagement between residents and stakeholders by investing in the development and maintenance of online social media communities.  Finally, we also plan to convene meetings of community stakeholders to foster shared understanding and cooperation regarding who knows and does what in our community.

What would you ultimately like to see your project do?

By documenting our successes and iterations, we intend to build a scalable and replicable model that can assist with monitoring and reducing vacancy rates in the other 98 Birmingham neighborhoods. The CHIA process reiterated in my mind UAB’s commitment to having a positive impact on the City of Birmingham.

To learn more about the Community Health Innovation Awards (CHIA) Program and One Great Community, click here.​