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“Invisible Evictions”

Hernandez mentoring supplement delves into housing insecurity

Associate Professor Daphne Hernandez

A family doesn’t need an eviction notice tacked to their door to worry about losing their home, and a grant supplement from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) will help Cizik School of Nursing at UTHealth Houston researchers learn more about this marginalized group.

“Invisible Evictions: Displacement Pressures and Mental Health” is a $385,023 supplement to an R01 grant that Associate Professor Daphne Hernandez, PhD, MSEd, FAAHB, received in September 2023. The $2.36 million, three-year parent study, “Health Outcomes Post-Eviction Moratoria (HOPE-M),” focuses on how the degree of eviction protection households experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic is associated with psychosocial stress after local eviction moratoriums expired.

Researchers in Austin and Houston have conducted nearly 1,700 surveys on individuals identified through court filings and individuals who are at-risk for eviction but have had no formal eviction filed. With the supplement, the team will take a closer look at households that did not face legal filings but continue to feel pressure from their landlords to move out.

“Among households that feel pressure to move, there are some who do move. We call this ‘soft displacement,’” Hernandez explained. “Others stay in their homes despite feeling that their landlord is pressuring them to move out. We are referring to this situation as ‘potential displacement.’ These two groups of marginalized renters cannot be tracked through the court systems, so less is known about them.”

The supplement will enable Hernandez’s team to take a closer look at these two subgroups of people experiencing housing insecurity outside the legal system. Preliminary identification of potential cohort members involved use of the Housing Precarity Risk Model developed by Timothy Thomas, PhD, at The University of California – Berkeley, and co-investigator on the R01 grant.

Mentorship is an important element of the Invisible Evictions project. Hernandez will work with two trainees – Bora Kim, PhD, MSN, RN, a postdoctoral research fellow at Cizik School of Nursing, and Rhea Vikas, a Master of Public Health student at the UTHealth School of Public Health. Co-investigators are Cizik School of Nursing Assistant Professor Annalynn Galvin, PhD, RN, and Professor Wenway Chan, PhD, a biostatistics expert at the School of Public Health.

“It is an honor to receive this mentoring award from NIH and to be recognized for my past and ongoing extensive efforts to train first-generation high school and college students from undergraduate through the early-career faculty level,” Hernandez said. “I see this award as a steppingstone to establishing Cizik School of Nursing as having a strong training program focused on the social and structural determinants of health across communities affected by homelessness, eviction, and displacement.”

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Daphne C Hernandez, PhD, MSEd, FAAHB

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