Recipients of PSC Small Grant Awards

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

Alexa Karra Eisenberg

Alexa Eisenberg

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 ofpopulation 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.