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Mapping Post-Disaster Property Speculation in Houston, Texas, 2014-2018

Authors: Hannah Mizell*, Mississippi State University, Taylor Shelton, Mississippi State University
Topics: Urban Geography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Housing, Disasters, GIS
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


From 2015 to 2017, the city of Houston, Texas experienced three consecutive years with 500 year-floods, culminating in record-setting damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. While natural disasters have long facilitated opportunities for profiteering, anthropogenic climate change and rapid urban development in Houston have further exacerbated the impacts of disasters through the increased intensity and elevation of flooding. As a result, disaster-induced damage has primed the Houston housing market for speculative activity by investors and developers seeking to profit off of these crisis events. This poster analyzes how housing speculation has manifest following the three major floods in Harris County from 2015 to 2017. To do this, we identify four indicators of housing speculation and map them across Harris County: corporate-owned properties, absentee-owned properties, concentrated property ownership, and significant changes in value. This analysis attempts to identify the spatiality of speculative activity in relation to flood inundation from 2015-2017, with results showing that three out of four indicators demonstrate an upward trend of housing speculation following each of the floods, with speculative activity being most concentrated in southwest Harris County.

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