Information is power, but only if it comes in a form that makes sense to people, that’s accessible and coherent. Branden DuPont’s mission, in a nutshell, is to turn scattered and often obscure data points into that kind of information. His work connects the dots. It reveals the workings of complex social systems—and empowers people to change those systems for the better.
A data analyst at the Institute for Health and Equity of the Medical College of Wisconsin, DuPont has focused on housing and criminal justice systems. His recent efforts have included building an online dashboard to track key performance indicators of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, uncovering racial disparities in arrest and conviction rates for marijuana possession in Wisconsin, and showing (in a widely cited study) that reducing the use of cash bail in Chicago saved defendants and their families millions of dollars without making communities less safe. Thanks to a tool DuPont created linking Milwaukee evictions data with property records, local stakeholders can now identify where evictions are happening, when they’re also associated with code violations, and which landlords are the city’s most prolific evictors.
DuPont’s Rubinger Fellowship project, inspired by the work of nonprofit JustFix.nyc, is to create a new housing-information tool for Milwaukeeans, one that adds a critical dimension. Using mailing addresses, the names of property agents, and other data points, the portal will connect properties associated with the same ownership—a workaround to landlords’ practice of hiding behind anonymous limited liability corporations, or LLCs. Users will be able to pull up code violations, tax status, and evictions connected to a building, but also find out whether the building’s owner—the person collecting rents—is a small landlord or owns hundreds of units across the city under a long list of blandly named LLCs.
Read the full article about understanding housing and eviction data to empower renters at LISC.
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