The Project

No Place Like Home is a community-initiated, student-engaged research project on the affordable housing crisis in Santa Cruz County. Based at UC Santa Cruz, the project grew out of two ongoing research initiatives: Critical Sustainabilities, led by Miriam Greenberg, and Working for Dignity, led by Steve McKay. Community partners working with low-income residents initiated the research by identifying affordable housing as their most important need, while joint research found the lack of affordable housing is a primary driver of Santa Cruz County's high poverty rate (22%). Yet there was a dearth of data on, or representation of, how low-income renters experience the housing crisis, and on the multiple impacts of unaffordable and precarious housing for our community.


No Place Like Home launched in Fall 2015 to research and represent these experiences and impacts, as well as to explore the roots of and potential responses to the crisis. We did this through a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, undertaken by teams of UC Santa Cruz undergraduate students, together with faculty, graduate students, and research center support. These methods include:

  • – a renter survey (1,737 respondents)
  • – historical and policy analysis
  • – targeted interviews
  • – creative non-fiction
  • – audio documentaries
  • – photography
  • – data visualization
Student Engagement

Students conducting the survey and interviews first worked directly with our community partner, Community Bridges, to get to know the issues that renters face, and to organize activities that address these issues. Students then went door-to-door in bilingual teams, with approximately 60% conducting surveys in Spanish. Students also helped develop the site’s multimedia content, from data analysis, to interviews with local experts, to data visualization and photo documentary. Many of our students are bilingual Spanish speakers and first-generation college students, and most chose to participate in the project due to their own experiences with housing issues.

Miriam Greenberg
Professor, Sociology
Steve McKay
Sociology, Associate Professor
Karen Tei Yamashita
Literature, Professor
José Anotonio Villarán
Literature, Instructor
Ruben Espinoza
Sociology, Graduate Teaching Assistant
Claudia Lopez
Sociology, Web Project and Site Translation
Kristin Miller
Sociology, Web Project Lead and Graduate Student Researcher
Samuael Topiary
Film & Digital Media, Graduate Student Researcher
Project Team Leaders

Data Visualization
Aaron Cole & Barry Nickel
Center for Integrated Spatial Research
Erin McElroy, Feminist Studies PhD
The Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
Thao Le, Sociology 2o18

Data Analysis & Survey
Veronica Terriquez, Associate Professor, Sociology
Center for Statistical Analysis in the Social Sciences
Steven Carmona Mora, Sociology 2017
Tonje Switzer, Sociology 2016
Esteban Adame, Sociology 2017

Interviews & Photography
Andres Arias, Sociology 2017
Alma Villa, Sociology 2018

Digital Stories
Samantha Garcia, Sociology 2018

Site Translation
Noemi Garibay, Sociology 2018
Maria Fernanda Blanco, Sociology 2017


Makings of a Crisis
Sarah Wikle, Community Studies 2018

Zine, Art, and Creative Writing
Gabriela Olivera, Sociology 2018

Event & Admin Support
Veronica Lopez-Duran, Program Manager, Community Studies
Barbara Laurence, Faculty Services, Sociology
Darshani Alahan, Sociology 2016

More than 200 undergrads who contributed their time, effort, and scholarship to the survey, interviews, and related courses

Contact us



No Place Like Home

Sociology Department, Rachel Carson College

University of California, Santa Cruz

1156 High Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95064