Applying qualitative research processes to government initiatives

The Mayor’s Housing Innovation Lab (Housing iLab) was tasked with creating meaningful and sustainable solutions to address an emerging problem in the city of Boston: a housing crisis for middle income residents.

Beyond creating these tactical solutions, the Housing iLab also aspired to create an open channel of communication with Boston residents.

Most cities base so much of their information off of data, mostly quantitative and demographic-based. The Housing iLab recognized the importance of obtaining qualitative data to begin the conversation about lifestyles, and how a better understanding of the Boston lifestyle could impact housing options positively.

Through a five-phased study using an ethnographic research approach (in-home interviews), twig+fish and the Housing iLab collaborated to learn about realities and aspirations of middle income residents. In doing so, this discussion revealed deeper connection points with this population that helped inform housing solutions.

The study left a deeper mark: hearing the personal stories of city dwellers brought to light a more human focus on the emotions, attitudes and preferences that play into housing choices. The study was applauded as a step forward to focus more on the human aspect in research across other city challenges.

Meena Kothandaraman of twig+fish will give a summary of the five-phased approach, and success factors of applying a credible approach to qualitative research.

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