A report on HES Extension programs
serving Missouris families and communities
The common notion about affordable housing
is that it
look at the housing
building materials and
just a house
Atiya Mahmood and the
Affordable Housing team
assist first-time homeowners
in a variety of ways.
Mahmood hopes to bring a broader meaning to the term affordable housing.
The common notion about affordable housing is that it deals with just the financial
aspect of buying a house, said Mahmood, the newest member of the state Human
Environmental Sciences (HES) Extension staff. It's a very important part, but you
also have to look at the housing design, planning and zoning, building materials and
the HES College about a year ago, Mahmood and the Affordable Housing team have developed a
program called HomeWorks: Maintaining Your Housing Investment. Targeted to first-time
homeowners, the program discusses topics such as preventive and emergency home maintenance
and repairs; being a responsible neighbor; post-purchase financial planning; home safety
and security; and dealing with contractors.
The Affordable Housing program team, which Mahmood chairs with Rebecca Blocker, a regional environmental design specialist,
consists of two state specialists and seven regional specialists. In March of 1999,
Mahmood coordinated a training session for regional extension staff, so they can teach
this program in their respective counties.
Mahmood first encountered affordable housing issues
during an undergraduate architecture course in Bangladesh. One of her assignments involved
interviewing families who lived in a traditional low-income neighborhood. Although the
situation was hypothetical, the students suggested ways to improve the infrastructure of
the homes and preserve the traditional essence of the neighborhood. Mahmood and her
classmates examined issues ranging from high congestion to poor sanitation to how the
family utilized their space.
After receiving an architecture degree from
Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology, she came to MU and majored in
environmental design. Her master's research focused on women's perceptions of their
kitchens, traditionally considered a woman's domain. She is now finishing her doctorate in
architecture at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
My interest area is innovative and
nontraditional housing with a focus on gender issues, she said. The high rate
of single-parent families with women as the primary-care provider is an example of why we
need to make housing more available to different people.
Atiya Mahmood, right, works with
Extension specialists during a
mind-mapping session on the
|With rapid demographic shifts, she
said, housing needs across Missouri are changing constantly. For example, in many rural
counties, outward migration has left small towns with a high number of elderly citizens.
In southern Missouri, poultry processing plants are moving in
and increasing job opportunities. This in turn has attracted more ethnic, low-income
|Mahmood hopes to develop
and offer programs that will help communities address these issues. She wants communities
to understand that providing homes also involves issues such as accessibility to jobs,
schools, healthcare, transportation and local support services.
People who need affordable housing are usually
financially constrained, she said. You can't just provide a house. You have to
plan more holistically and think about affordable communities and infrastructure.
Her next project involves developing a program
focused on affordable housing through community partnerships, whether with government
agencies, area businesses or citizen groups.
For Mahmood, the most enjoyable aspect of her job is
seeing how her work directly helps Missouri families. I like seeing the direct
impact for people, said Mahmood. After I develop
something, I talk to people or teach people about it. I can go back after six months to a
year and ask them what they did with that information. I find that feedback
She also enjoys working in the collaborative atmosphere of
University Extension. Working together in teams, we have a connection with people
throughout the state.
For more information about
Affordable Housing Programs contact:
162 Stanley Hall,
University of Missouri,
Columbia, MO 65211
phone: (573) 882-3239
Fax: (573) 884=5768
|Impact Table of Contents
HES Extension Site Administrator