Urban Space and Corporate Landlords: Post-Recession (sub)urban geographies in Atlanta

Authors: Taylor Hafley*, University of Georgia
Topics: Urban Geography
Keywords: urban space, housing, race and class
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Palladian, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

A growing body of literature tracks private equity’s entrance into the single-family rental (SFR) market from an initial phase of pure speculation into a second phase of long-term investment (Wijburg, Aalbers, Heeg, 2018; see also Aalbers 2016; Fields and Uffer 2016; Fields 2015; 2018; Beswick et al. 2016). Even so, scholarship has yet to establish where and at what scales this new form of global finance capital is extracting value across urban and suburban space. Invitation Homes is a subsidiary of private equity giant Blackstone and the United States’ largest corporate landlord. Leveraging publicly available address-level data, I map the location of Invitation Homes properties onto geographies of race and class in metropolitan Atlanta--the company’s largest market. Specifically, I aggregate neighborhood and county-level totals, and compare them to a classification of race and income segregation and diversity (Holloway et al. 2012). Preliminary analysis indicates that roughly 25% of the firm’s properties are located in Gwinnet County, a suburban county where the white population declined more than 20 percentage points since 2000. Consequently, in this county-level example, private equity’s rise coincides with an increase in both segregation and diversity. Situating this Atlanta case study within the racialized history of American housing, this paper discusses how corporate landlords, the byproducts of Recession-era housing policy, are shaping the geographies of race and class in 21st century urban space.

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