Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


Mark DeVirgilio


Devalued homes and weakened economic conditions of 2008 led to lost property tax revenues, more vacant and abandoned properties, and destabilized neighborhoods. The first Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP1) was a federal intervention designed to mitigate the damage of the recession, but there is scant evidence of program effectiveness. A phenomenological study, using a method outlined by Moustakas,

answered questions on the benefits and barriers of NSP1 as perceived by stakeholders in a Mid-Atlantic city. Stakeholders included nonprofit housing advocates, residents, business partners, and government officials. Theories of collaborative governance and community stakeholders were used to guide the investigation of NSP1 processes and stakeholders' perceptions. Ten stakeholders responded to 9 compound interview questions derived from the research question and 4 subquestions in semi-structured interviews. Responses were transcribed, verified for accuracy, and then coded and

analyzed for recurring themes. Five prominent themes emerged: (1) challenges with NSP1 guidelines, (2) importance of partner capacity, (3) positive results in targeted neighborhoods, (4) city's approach to community development, and (5) sustaining positive results. Findings were that NSP1's benefits for residents outweighed procedural barriers and NSP1's short duration still yielded positive results in neighborhoods. This study has policy and social change implications for all stakeholders involved. Recommendations include continuous city involvement to stabilize neighborhoods during future recessions and better entrepreneurial strategies to integrate private and non-profit stakeholders in all phases of collaborative governance.