Alexa Karra Eisenberg

Racial and spatial inequities in housing dispossession and health: Examining the distribution of occupied property tax foreclosures in Wayne County, MI

Small Fund Research Project

Growing evidence indicates that housing dispossession, including foreclosure, has
deleterious consequences for mental and physical health outcomes, not only for individuals who
have been directly affected, but also for communities where these events are spatially concentrated.
Still, most studies examine the relationship between housing dispossession and health at the
individual level, ignoring the broader social and historical context of housing segregation and the
corresponding geographic entrenchment of racial health inequities. In doing so, dominant research
has overlooked the extent to which housing dispossession may be both racially and spatially
patterned, and has largely failed to consider how such patterns may influence the distribution of
population health risk in socially marginalized communities. This study addresses this gap by
examining the spatial distribution of occupied property tax foreclosures across communities in
Wayne County, Michigan, to determine whether the state's tax foreclosure policy has had a racially
disparate impact, and assess whether spatially concentrated foreclosures may exacerbate racialized
patterns of health inequity at the community-level. Thisresearch will lend new insight on the health
equity consequences of institutionalized racism by examining how, in the context of segregation,
"race-neutral" housing policies may function discriminatorily to perpetuate racial and spatial
inequities in housing and health, with the potential to widen already severe health disparities.

Funding:
Eva L. Mueller New Directions in Economics and Demography Fund

Funding Period: 3/1/2019 to 2/29/2020

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