Portland State University is investing $3 million over the next three years in The PSU Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative and the The PSU Digital City Testbed Center. The new research centers will focus on solving some of the city’s biggest challenges, including: homelessness, traffic, and environmental sustainability.
The PSU Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative will examine the root causes of homelessness and seek solutions to reduce the problem. Marisa Zapata, Associate Professor of Urban Studies & Planning, will co-direct the center. Initial research will start with an examination of homelessness among students and staff at PSU and the center will also challenge community assumptions about the complicated issues around housing insecurity.
Addressing homelessness is an all hands-on deck effort,” mayor Ted Wheeler said. “I’m energized PSU is making the important investment of a Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative to address challenges of homelessness on the local level and beyond. Additionally, PSU’s Digital City Testbed Center will help advance smart city innovation. Together, these investments will unite the City of Portland and the university in a collective effort to promote the success of our city and our citizens.”
The PSU Digital City Testbed Center will explore how technology can make cities like Portland safer, more accessible, economically viable, healthier and climate-friendly. It will be trying out ideas in three urban areas: the Portland State University campus on the city’s west side, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Southeast Portland, and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, B.C. Center Director Jon Fink said technology has the potential to improve numerous aspects of urban life, but researchers have to be thoughtful about how to test out ideas.
“What we plan to do with this center is look at the issues of how technology affects cities — how it affects city operations, but also the lives of residents of cities,” said Fink. “Do you just march into a neighborhood and say, ‘hey folks, we’re bringing in all kinds of new gizmos and video cameras and other things and trust us, it’ll be great?’ That hasn’t worked so well in a number of areas.”
Portland State’s mission is to use our vast knowledge and expertise to serve the city by addressing its most critical issues,” PSU president Rahmat Shoureshi said. “Creating these two university research centers was a high priority for me to fulfill our mission. Both centers will expand upon the existing research and scholarship our renowned faculty have produced in these areas to find innovative and effective solutions for the future.”