RCE Georgetown - 2022

Bucksport, SC Housing Assessment
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Bucksport, SC Housing Assessment
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Georgetown
Contributing organization(s) : 
Coastal Carolina University, Association for the Betterment of Bucksport, James R. Frazier Community Center
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Name: 
Jennifer Mokos
Organizational Affiliation: 
Coastal Carolina University
Name: 
Kevin Mishoe
Organizational Affiliation: 
Association for the Betterment of Bucksport
Name: 
Gina Mishoe
Organizational Affiliation: 
Association for the Betterment of Bucksport
Format of project: 
audiovisual, in person training and data collection, powerpoint
Language of project: 
English
Date of submission:
Friday, September 9, 2022
Sustainable community development policy
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Subnational
Environmental justice policy
At what level is the policy operating?: 
National
Disaster risk reduction policy
At what level is the policy operating?: 
National
Geographical & Education Information
Region: 
Americas
Country: 
United States
Location(s): 
Bucksport, SC
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Coastal Carolina University
Kearns Hall 114D
Conway, SC 29528
Ecosystem(s):
Target Audience:
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
Bucksport, SC is a rural, lower-income, Black settlement community located in coastal South Carolina at the confluence of the Waccamaw and Great Pee Dee Rivers. The Bucksport community currently faces a number of challenges including encroaching development and gentrification, property rights issues related to “heirs' property,” and increased frequency and intensity of catastrophic flooding (with five major floods in the past five years). These three concerns overlap and intersect in ways that significantly threaten housing security and community wellbeing within Bucksport. Heirs' property (land passed down without a will or deed over generations) is currently the leading cause of Black involuntary land loss in the United States. In areas, like Bucksport, where outside development pressures have increased, long-time owners and residents can lose their land through legal maneuvers from non-family members. Moreover, heirs' property has made it difficult or impossible for residents to receive assistance from FEMA and other public agencies for housing repairs after floods. As a result, Bucksport residents are deeply concerned about flood recovery and housing insecurity and are actively organizing and advocating for long-term flood resilience, housing security, and sustainable community development..
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
This project focuses on addressing: SDG1: End Poverty, SDG3: Good Health & Wellbeing, 10: Reduced Inequalities, 11: Sustainable Communities, 13: Climate Action, 16: Peace, Justice, & Strong Institutions
Contents
Status: 
Ongoing
Period: 
February, 2022
Rationale: 
Bucksport is an unincorporated Gullah-Geechee community with Horry County, SC experiencing repetitive catastrophic flooding, significant heirs' property concerns, and increasing pressure from outside development and gentrification. However, since data on these concerns is predominantly collected and aggregated on the county-level, data is lacking on the unique and specific concerns within Bucksport, which makes it difficult for community members to advocate for their needs and for effective, sustainable change. This project aims to fill this necessary gap by working with the community to assess housing impacts, conditions, and threats and support efforts towards the creation of secure housing, increased wellbeing, and long-term community resilience.
Objectives: 
The purpose of the project is to conduct a community housing assessment, which involves going to each property in person and evaluating the condition of each residence. This data is often required to apply for community development block fund grants for housing and for federal funding for housing. We also conducted a survey of every property within Bucksport to create a database of potential heirs' properties. Heirs property is common in Black settlement communities where historically there is a lack of trust of government institutions and reduced access to legal services. Heirs' property is a sensitive issue for property owners, and as such is difficult to address. The heirs' property database will aid community leaders and organizers in Bucksport to reach out to vulnerable property owners and residents and conduct outreach in more personal ways.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The idea of the project was initiated through conversations with Kevin Mishoe, the president of the Association for the Betterment of Bucksport where Mr. Mishoe identified housing (flood mitigation/repair and heirs' property) as significant concerns. In Spring 2022, my class of 40 undergraduate students at CCU worked to organize and conduct the initial housing assessment. We put together the survey and worked to learn and program the survey into Fulcrum, an app that would allow us to geocode (map) the data while we were collecting it. I worked collaboratively with the students to plan the data collection event (April 30, 2022). We were concerned that Bucksport residents would be alarmed by the presence of people walking down their streets with iPads and staring at their homes so we also did significant outreach ahead of time. The students drafted a flyer and door hanger to distribute. I also presented the plan to a public meeting in Bucksport, allowing residents to ask questions and provide feedback. Kevin and Gina Mishoe worked to distribute flyers, spread the word about the event, and provide insight and support for a successful event. The students prepared by learning how to identify dry rot, different types of roof damage, and other aspects of housing conditions. We divided the community into smaller sections and on the day of the assessment, the students worked in small groups to walked each section assessing the condition at each residence. I preloaded the iPads with a pin at each residence, which turned from red to green as the students complete the survey. We also gave out over 100 plants to residents who visited our "home base" in the community center. The students completed over 75% of over 500 properties in one day. Two students worked with me over the summer to complete the data collection. Analysis is currently ongoing, which includes overlaying flood extent data over housing condition data to identify how flooding has impacted housing conditions. During this upcoming year we will be augmenting this data with interviews with residents who have experienced flooding to identify impacts not captured with the external assessment.

We also developed a series of five indicators to identify potential heirs' properties. We combed through every property record in Bucksport in the Horry County land records and created a database ranking each property as very not likely, not likely, maybe, likely, and highly likely heirs property.

Size of academic audience: 
40
Results: 
Data analysis is ongoing. However, informal conversations with residents during the assessment identified impacts internal in the home and ongoing stressors not captured by the external assessment. In response, we plan to conduct followup interviews this upcoming academic year.

The heirs property database identified that over 43% of properties in Bucksport maybe, or are likely/highly to be heirs' property. These results have been presented to the community who have guided us on additional outreach and followup actives.
Lessons learned: 
The students overwhelmingly found the project to the valuable and developed a strong connection to the Bucksport community. As a sustainability course, this integration between social and environmental justice concerns was a key learning outcome for the students. We also learned ways to adjust the assessment to more accurately capture flood impacts (as described above). I have also come to have a stronger appreciation for the sensitivity of the issue of heirs' property to residents and the completes of addressing in for many families.
Key messages: 
An group of students and a professor from Coastal Carolina University worked with the Bucksport community to collect data on housing impacts related to flooding and heirs' property to help advocate for sustainable and resilient solutions.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
This project was embedded in a class on Water & Women at Coastal Carolina University for Sustainability and Coastal Resilience majors. It was also part of work conducted through a broad partnership of academics and NGO's working to support the Association for the Betterment of Bucksport and the broader Bucksport community. The partnership has become a model for similar communities in the local area and region.
Funding: 
The work formed the basis for an internal sustainability grant from Coastal Carolina University and an application for a Google Data Justice Fund Grant (submitted August 2022).

Pictures:

File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon 278767082_359120616180174_8380669370787088716_n.jpg (435.45 KB) Students conducting housing assement
Image icon 279033716_398812981861680_1226838732845019151_n.jpg (2.46 MB) houing assessment information table
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
Direct
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
Direct
SDG 8 - Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all 
Indirect
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
Direct
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
Direct
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
Direct
SDG 16 - Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels 
Indirect
Theme
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Direct
Curriculum Development 
Direct
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
state: 
Indirect
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
state: 
Direct
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
state: 
Direct
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
state: 
Direct
I acknowledge the above: 
Yes