SPRINGFIELD , Ill. (WAND) - Dilapidated and vacant homes are an issue for the City of Springfield's east side. To address the issue, the city currently has a graduate student from Harvard helping out.

Megan Willis-Jackson is part of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which provides tools to help city leaders have high-performing and innovative cities.
Willis-Jackson was matched with Springfield and is focusing on the run down properties.
"I've been working a lot with Public Works looking at their processes, how inspectors do their jobs and gonna produce some recommendations for the city, just how I think that process could be streamlined," Willis-Jackson said. 
She's currently a graduate student at Harvard University. Her education there and data from the city are the driving force for her research.
"That's something that I've been able to do here," she said. "The city has a lot of great available data to help make decisions and I've been using that in my research here."
Finding a solution isn't just an assignment. It's something she is passionate about.
"I think it's so foundational to every human's success you know can they have a safe place to live, can they afford that place to live. It's not a huge burden for them to be able to afford it" said Willis-Jackson.
Through her research, she believes she can offer a new outlook on what to do with these properties.
"Having a completely fresh perspective on the city's processes, because, you know. the process has been what it's been for however long," she said. "Sometimes it does just take a fresh perspective to be able to see, well, you know, you've done it this way for so long. but maybe consider doing it this other way."

Willis-Jackson will continue her research through the end of July and then present her recommendations to the city after.

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