I shouldn't be writing this.
I'm tired. Didn't get much sleep last night. Probably because I didn't go to bed until after 2 and was up bright and early this morning.
I have one more obligation this quarter, and then it is over. Thank God.
I tackled a service project this quarter on top of the full Master's class load. On top of being a mom, a wife, a fill-in-the-blank of all things family and community related.
The service project wasn't really a choice. Since this degree is a Masters in Public Administration, when non profits and city's around the area have big projects but little money, they come to us (among others). Our instructors, who unlike most professors, are still active and working in the profession, take on these projects for free. I mean, why not? They get to be the head, filling out their resume', and have a host of graduate students to do all the research, all the writing, all the work.
In a nutshell, this project involved doing an analysis on a certain commercial corridor in Dayton to discover feasibility of redevelopment. This corridor, a four lane road leading downtown, used to bustle with businesses. But for various reasons has declined to almost nothing but empty abandoned buildings and lots in the last 20 years.
However, on each side of this corridor are two Historic overlay districts with beautiful restored homes, a brand new subdivision (public housing), three senior living facilities (no vacancies), at least 25 apartment complexes with a 5% vacancy rate, and homes in various degrees of repair, from immaculate to boarded up, all mixed in together.
Single Family Homes, first four historic, last is "Gov Housing."
Example boarded up homes....
There were many parts to this report. One part studied the actual physical inventory right on the corridor. Others looked at demographics and spending potential for the area. There are 7 sections total. Since this area also includes rent subsidy, tons of gov $, how much and where it was spent, another part. (As an aside, did you know they stopped building apartment low income housing and now build actual houses? People buy them, or rent them, who would have lived in the "projects" fifteen years ago....but that is another subject.)
My part was residential real estate analysis. Since I was limited to 5-6 weeks I was forced to use a sample of the total population of structures. There are 460 residential structures in the area surrounding the corridor. I sampled every other structure, or every two since some parcels are empty lots or have other issues which disqualify them, on every street within my analyzed area. This resulted in 285 structures in my sample. 242 single family homes, 28 duplexes, 3 senior facilities, 12 apartments, on and on.
Then I researched the value history on each individual parcel going back to 2000.
I took the appraised value (not the same as market value) of the parcel today, subtracted the value in 2000, and came up with a difference score, which I divided by 9 to give me an annual appreciation rate for each parcel. Roughly. This is the short version of the statistical computation performed.
That was just the first week, and since some of these structures are new, it was a mess because some of the county records showed the old structures still standing. (They are at least a year behind.)
I researched thousands and thousands of lines of data to aggregate into a table or chart or maybe three sentences, maybe four, from easy to read websites (NOT), like HUD, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council, on and on.
I walked the neighborhoods and took pictures, noted the condition of homes, etc. Talked with managers of apartment complexes, senior living facilities, etc.
Since this is part of a published report, and my name will be on it, I checked and re-checked the information (even sent Kelly a rough draft of my section of the report, sorry Kelly). I wrote at least twenty, 35-40 page reports, re-editing, re-organizing, footnoting, appendixing, etc.
I made the deadline.
But it required five solid weeks of little sleep and lots of stress. One little friggin number off could deteriorate into hours and hours of research, attempting to track down the reason for it.
Tuesday after I give a power point presentation at a Town Hall meeting on my findings and recommendations, it will be over. Barring anything kicked back by the publisher of course.
I wanted my writing to be published, heh. Who woulda thought it'd be techincal analysis? Gag. (Trust me, editors do not like creativity in "government reports." For instance, I almost took an OK CORRAL stand on the word "sprinkle." That's right. I wrote, "...multifamily units, interspersed between single family units, sprinkle the neighborhoods surrounding the corridor."
Oh HELL NO!
I received an email(s), heh,..."please refrain from creative use of language, change the word sprinkle to 'are incorporated into the..." BLAH BLAH BLAH.
I refused to change it for the first three drafts, but they kicked it back every single time. hahahaha.
Well, excuuuuuuuse me for being so rebellious I actually used the word "sprinkle." Pffft.
It seems that when a bureaucrat tells you to be creative, they mean in the size of font you use on tables, or the layout of text on the page, hmmm, should I align the text left? Or go all out and align it left and right?
I worked on my slides last night and this morning and think, maybe they are polished enough. With the media covering the event specifically for this project I didn't want my slides to suck. But you know what? Since they are mine and I am presenting, I made them POP. HELLLO! They zip and move and I used clip art to rock them.....If I could get away with it, I'd have put music to them...heh.
And when its all done? I'm getting drunk.
Well, ok not drunk. I don't really get drunk, but I'm having a few drinks with some of the other people who worked on other sections of this HUGE ass report.
That is, if I can get out of the Town Hall meeting. Real estate, especially single family homes, garners a lot of controversy. Dayton was fortunate that the housing bubble didn't really over inflate things here. People kept their heads. So while the rest of the country is in negative appreciation for over the last 8 quarters, Dayton is averaging 2.8% a year (though the last 6 quarters are negative) since 2009.
Which leads me to, wow, the media in this country really sucks. I found so many articles on the housing market (from reputable financial magazines likes Forbes, and newspapers like The Wall Street Journal, with facts and figures supposedly gotten from this gov agency report or that one. And when I read that report, every. single. word. Most times, in fact EVERY time except once, the media got the numbers wrong, or they cited the wrong source, or cited something that doesn't even exist, which means they pretty much just made it up. There is no way to cite a wrong, or non-existence source, unless you are winging the facts. Some went so far as to put in LINKS to the gov sight, making the story look official. But when I couldn't find the article, and contacted the agency directly, they laughed and said, DUH! Doesn't exist. Or when I did the research, realized they reported the first paragraph of a report as fact, but the entire rest of the 100 page report refutes the claims of the first paragraph.
I am tired and grumpy. I do actually know these research skills are essential. Part of the reason I am going into this profession is because I think the gov. should be more accountable. I also think most conservatives have abandoned this field, essentially they've abandoned the running of the government to LIBERALS. No wonder half the crap that passes muster in the gov passes...95% of the people in the field are way left of center. And that is a fact used to recruit others into this field.....just an FYI.
I don't know what's harder, the hours and hours of research for a single line of information, or working with people who think the government, (for instance) owes every "low-income" family a 3-4 bedroom house, with a two car garage.
Think I'm kidding?
Gov. subsidized housing, 3-4 bedrooms, two car garage (out back). Built in this style because the subdivision abuts a historic district.