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Open Access Publications from the University of California

After Foreclosure: The Displacement Crisis and the Social and Spatial Reproduction of Inequality


The current foreclosure crisis has led to large-scale displacement of former homeowners and their families. From 2005-2010, this crisis has produced a wave of displacement, which still shows little sign of slowing, and is predicted to continue until 2012. Research shows that those who have been the most heavily impacted by foreclosure are people of color, homeowners with low educational attainment, the elderly, and women homeowners. This paper engages the foreclosure and displacement literatures and discusses five pilot interviews to examine the ways in which households have been impacted, at the level of the individual and the household. While the popular press and academic literature have focused on the impacts of foreclosures on the financial and mortgage industries, the impacts of foreclosure and displacement on families and neighborhoods continue to be profound and are silently undermining stability and producing deep social uncertainty. The literature on displacement due to natural disaster, urban renewal, and gentrification foregrounds the ways the current foreclosure crisis may operate differently from past large-scale displacements, and provides insight into the social and equity implications of the foreclosure crisis. Interviews with individuals who have been foreclosed upon, and church pastors from communities with high rates of foreclosure, show how displacement contributes to uncertainty and hardship for many families. This paper examines the variety of realms affected by foreclosure, from the social to the spatial, and analyzes the ways in which the foreclosure crisis is becoming a displacement crisis that may be reproducing social inequalities.

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