By Katherine Giesa
Urban Studies ’16
Over the summer I made a series of maps for Hudson River Housing (HRH), an organization working to encourage home ownership and provide affordable housing options for residents of the Hudson Valley. This work was completed for the Geography Field Work course (GEOG 290). Field Work courses at Vassar involve working with a non-profit organization, a government agency, or a business. Nearly every department and program at Vassar sponsors field work.
Vassar’s GIS Academic Computing Consultant, Neil Curri, helped put me in touch with Hudson River Housing and we met with them at the beginning of June to talk about what they would be most interested in seeing from a geospatial perspective. Essentially, they had a list of addresses, a list of properties they were involved with, but no visualization of their work’s location or dispersal across Poughkeepsie or the greater Hudson Valley.
I worked first to simply map the individual parcels of HRH involvement. From here, I looked at a series of property and demographic data sets, mapping property values and types over HRH parcels. Then, in looking at demographic data, I had the opportunity to work with Policy Map, an online mapping service that comes with a plethora of data built into the software. Though in many ways the program is reductive in its simplicity, it did paint a general picture that began to illuminate trends of income, poverty, and homeownership in Poughkeepsie, and allowed Hudson River Housing to locate themselves in relation to larger demographic trends of Poughkeepsie.
Overall, the aggregation of these maps began to paint a picture of Hudson River Housing’s involvement in Poughkeepsie and allowed for the visualization of their place in the Hudson Valley.