Mapping Dispossession: Eviction, Foreclosure and the Multiple Geographies of Housing Instability in Lexington, Kentucky

Authors: Taylor Shelton*, Mississippi State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: critical GIS, housing, eviction, foreclosure, urban political economy
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Iberville, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While housing is increasingly recognized as crucial to the reproduction of social inequality, many aspects of housing injustice remain insufficiently understood due to a paucity of available data. This paper thus seeks to extend a growing body of literature theorizing the political economy of housing through an empirical analysis of housing instability and dispossession in Lexington, Kentucky. Combining datasets on residential evictions and mortgage foreclosures between 2005 and 2016, this paper seeks to understand the spatial and temporal dynamics of housing dispossession in a more-or-less ‘typical’ American city. This analysis reveals that while eviction and foreclosure “are two versions of the same story of dispossession” (Madden and Marcuse 2016: 65) and often operate in concert with one another, they are also marked by considerable differences. For instance, evictions are both much more widespread and less volatile year-over-year than are foreclosures, which tend to track closely with macroeconomic changes. At the same time, evictions are more spatially concentrated at both the Census tract scale and at the scale of smaller spatial units, despite foreclosures being much more correlated with racial and economic variables. Despite these differences, both forms of housing dispossession are increasingly pushed outside the central city area and into the inner-ring suburbs, while also experiencing a considerable concentration of activity among a small handful of landlords and investors seeking to profit off of this housing instability.

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