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IBS Speaker Series: Marisa Westbrook
February 20 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Title: Rising Pressure: The Embodiment of Housing Insecurity among Low-Income Hispanic/Latinx Families in Changing Neighborhoods
Exclusionary displacement occurs when individuals leave housing in neighborhoods but are unable to move into other housing options in similar neighborhoods despite their desire to do so, reducing housing stability and increasing health inequities. I examined how exclusionary displacement pressure impacts mental health through two and a half years of ethnographic fieldwork and longitudinal interviews with thirty five low-income families in the predominantly Hispanic/Latinx immigrant neighborhood of Westwood in Denver, Colorado. I document how residents face displacement pressures from rising rents and changing neighborhoods associated with early-stage gentrification. Demonstrated through embodied experiences, residents used a language of suffering and a language of to express how they are feeling, battling, and enduring the pressures of exclusionary displacement. This relationship points towards the need for an expanded definition of health and wellbeing when addressing urban inequity, and for increased efforts to redistribute wealth and opportunity to prevent the impacts of exclusionary displacement pressure.
Marisa Westbrook is a Health Promotion and Community Health faculty member in the School of Public Health, teaching courses related to program planning and evaluation, urban and community health, health equity, and social justice. She is a community-engaged researcher studying the impacts of the affordable housing crisis and urban inequity on mental health and wellbeing among low-income communities of color. Her ethnographic research projects examine the embodied experiences of housing insecurity and displacement pressure in changing neighborhoods. Currently, Westbrook is engaged in collaborative research projects that follow the impact of state-led neighborhood transitions on residents (highway expansion, public housing redevelopment), and documenting the impacts of unconditional cash transfers on the health of people experiencing homelessness. As a researcher studying topics of policy debate, she works in partnership with community groups to incorporate these findings into actionable change through participatory action research methods. Her work has been published in numerous outlets including Critical Public Health, SSM-Mental Health, Journal of Adolescent Health, and Geoforum.