Hillier, Amy

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Mental and Social Health
Urban Studies and Planning
Urban, Community and Regional Planning
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Assistant Professor of City & Regional Planning
My research focuses on geographic disparities, particularly racial disparities in housing and public health. Much of my research uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to analyze spatial patterns.
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 17
  • Publication
    WEB Du Bois and the "Negro Problem": Thoughts on Violence in Philadelphia
    (2007-07-22) Hillier, Amy
    This sermon, delivered at First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, might also be called "Why a white girl from New Hampshire is studying The Philadelphia Negro." This essay/sermon connects Du Bois's 1896 survey of Philadelphia to the violence currently plaguing Philadelphia.
  • Publication
    Community Activists and University Researchers Collaborating for Affordable Housing: Dual Perspectives on the Experience
    (2005-01-01) Hillier, Amy E; Koppisch, David
    This paper describes and analyzes the successful collaboration between the Philadelphia Affordable Housing Coalition and the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. This collaboration resulted in a research study that helped the Coalition secure an additional $10 million for affordable housing in Philadelphia. The perspectives of the activist and researcher on the collaboration are presented in their own voices and they describe their expectations, efforts to build relationships, define roles, and deal with different work styles and culture. Recommendations for building effective research partnerships are also provided.
  • Publication
    Working with ArcGIS 9.2 manual
    (2007-01-01) Hillier, Amy
    This manual is intended for undergraduate and graduate students learning to use ArcView 9 in a classroom setting. It is meant to be a complement, rather than substitute, for ArcView software manuals, ESRI training products, or the ArcView help options. It reflects the order and emphasis of topics that I have found most helpful while teaching introductory GIS classes. I expect that it will be particularly helpful to people new to GIS who may be intimidated by conventional software manuals. It may also be helpful as a resource to those who have completed a course in ArcView but don’t always remember how to perform particular tasks. This manual does not try to be comprehensive, focusing instead on the basic tools and functions that users new to GIS should know how to use. Those who master these basic functions should have the skills to learn about additional tools, using the ArcView help menus, or just exploring additional menu options, toolbars, and buttons.
  • Publication
    Who Received Loans? Home Owners' Loan Corporation Lending and Discrimination in Philadelphia in the 1930's
    (2003-02-01) Hillier, Amy E
    The lending record of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) has received little attention compared with HOLC’s residential security maps. Specifically, the extent to which HOLC practiced racial and ethnic discrimination in the process of making and servicing more than a million loans to homeowners during the Depression has not been carefully examined. Using primary sources including HOLC publications, newspaper articles, 1930 census data, and mortgage records from Philadelphia, this research shows that HOLC did make loans to African Americans, Jews, and immigrants. Evidence suggests, however, that HOLC supported racial segregation in the process of reselling properties acquired through foreclosure.
  • Publication
    Residential Security Maps and Neighborhood Appraisals. The Homeowners' Loan Corporation and the Case of Philadelphia
    (2005-07-01) Hillier, Amy E
    At the request of the Home Loan Bank Board, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) created color-coded maps for cities across the country between 1935 and 1940 that indicated risk levels for long-term real estate investment. Involvement in this City Survey Program marked a departure from the original mission of HOLC to provide new mortgages on an emergency basis to homeowners at risk of losing their homes during the Depression. This article considers why HOLC made these maps, how HOLC created them, and what the basis was for the grades on the maps. Geographic information systems and spatial regression models are used to show that racial composition was a significant predictor of map grades, controlling for housing characteristics.
  • Publication
    Why Social Work Needs Mapping
    (2007-07-01) Hillier, Amy E
    Relative to other fields, social work has been slow to adopt geographic information systems (GIS) as a tool for research and practice. This paper argues that GIS can benefit social work by: (1) continuing and strengthening the social survey tradition; (2) providing a framework for understanding human behavior; (3) identifying community needs and assets; (4) improving the delivery of social services; and (5) empowering communities and traditionally disenfranchised groups. Examples from a social work course on GIS and published social work research help illustrate these points. The paper concludes by considering the ways that social work can contribute to the development of GIS.
  • Publication
    Exploring the Role of the Food Environment on Food Shopping Patterns in Philadelphia, PA, USA: A Semiquantitative Comparison of Two Matched Neighborhood Groups
    (2013-01-14) Hirsch, Jana A.; Hillier, Amy
    Increasing research has focused on the built food environment and nutrition-related outcomes, yet what constitutes a food environment and how this environment influences individual behavior still remain unclear. This study assesses whether travel mode and distance to food shopping venues differ among individuals in varying food environments and whether individual- and household-level factors are associated with food shopping patterns. Fifty neighbors who share a traditionally defined food environment (25 in an unfavorable environment and 25 in a favorable environment) were surveyed using a mix of close- and open-ended survey questions. Food shopping patterns were mapped using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Stores visited were beyond the 0.5-mile (805 meters) radius traditionally used to represent the extent of an individual’s food environment in an urban area. We found no significant difference in shopping frequency or motivating factor behind store choice between the groups. No differences existed between the two groups for big food shopping trips. For small trips, individuals in the favorable food environment traveled shorter distances and were more likely to walk than drive. Socioeconomic status, including car ownership, education, and income influenced distance traveled. These findings highlight the complexities involved in the study and measurement of food environments.
  • Publication
    Comment on James R. Cohen’s “Abandoned Housing: Exploring Lessons from Baltimore”
    (2001-01-01) Culhane, Dennis P.; Hillier, Amy E
    For most cities, the possibility of transforming unused property into community and city assets is as yet hypothetical. Fiscal constraints limit the amount of land acquisition, relocation, and demolition that cities can undertake. Private investors, unsure of which neighborhoods have a chance of becoming self-sustaining, are reluctant to take risks in untested markets. Cities need to create citywide planning strategies for land aggregation and neighborhood stabilization and to develop analyses of the risks and opportunities associated with redevelopment opportunities in specific markets. Research seems sorely needed. Although the policy world cannot and will not stand still waiting for academics to design the perfect study or to collect all the data to model the potential effects of various policy options and investments, analysis that can play a more immediately supportive role can and should be done now.
  • Publication
    Evaluating a Community Based Homelessness Prevention Program: A Geographic Information System Approach
    (2001-01-01) Wong, Yin-Ling I; Hillier, Amy E
    This article introduces and illustrates the application of Geographic Information System technology to examine patterns of social-services use in community-based interventions. By integrating management information system data from human service agencies and publicly accessible data from the U.S. Census within a specially-referenced framework, the study illustrates that GIS analysis could help managers and planners of social services to assess the extent to which program implementation reflects adherence to a program concept and identify geographical areas with the greatest unmet service needs. The article demonstrates the application of GIS technology, based on an analysis of a city-wide community-based homelessness prevention program in Philadelphia.
  • Publication
    Help in Time: An Evaluation of Philadelphia's Community-Based Homelessness Prevention Program
    (1999-12-01) Wong, Yin-Ling I; Culhane, Dennis P; Metraux, Stephen; Koppel, Meg; Hillier, Amy; Eldridge, David E; Lee, Helen R
    This report provides an evaluation of Philadelphia's neighborhood-based homelessness prevention initiative. Results indicate that nearly all households served do not become homeless. But it is unclear if households would have become homeless had they not been served. Recommendations are made for targeting prevention interventions to families requesting shelter.