Mapping dispossession: eviction, foreclosure and the multiple geographies of housing instability in Lexington, Kentucky


Housing is increasingly recognized as playing a crucial role in shaping any number of other social processes and domains. But fundamental inequalities in housing mean that the benefits of quality housing accrue unequally to different groups of people. In order to explore how housing works not only to reflect, but also produce, socio- spatial inequality, this paper explores the geographies and temporalities of housing dispossession in Lexington, Kentucky by drawing on an extensive dataset of all evictions and foreclosures in the city from 2005 to 2016. The paper demonstrates that while mortgage foreclosure has tended to dominate discussions of housing dispossession since the financial crisis of 2007–2008, residential evictions are both far more widespread and much more consistent over time. The paper also concludes that while foreclosure rates are much more strongly correlated with variables of racial and class segregation, evictions are more spatially concentrated across multiple scales. The paper demonstrates that many of those places experiencing the most acute forms of housing dispossession are not gentrifying inner-city neighborhoods, but rather persistently or increasingly impoverished inner-ring suburbs. Ultimately, this paper argues that these spatialities are the result not of individual failings, but rather of powerful actors in the local housing market acting in conjunction with broader forces of racialized capitalist urbanization.

Geoforum 97: 281-291
Taylor Shelton
Assistant Professor of Geography and GIS