Research Methodology

How does the project engage with the broader literature?

This project builds on recent literature emphasizing racial segregation in housing as a major barrier to black household wealth accumulation (Taylor 2019, Trounstine 2018, Rothstein 2017). We apply three overlapping concepts to examine this transformation in a systemic and structural way. One is Joshua Akers’ (Decline Industry: The Market Production of Detroit, 2013) concept of the production of decline which argues for the holistic examination of the practices, policies, and profits that emerge from and perpetuate chronic decline. The second is from the work of Keeaga-Yamahtta Taylor (Race for Profit, 2019) examining historical racial inequities in real estate through the concepts of predatory inclusion and predatory exclusion. The third utilizes Jessica Trounstine’s (Segregation by Design, 2018) work on segregation by design through local politics and policies.

Related studies on redlining and block busting in Detroit include Thomas Sugrue’s (Origins of the Urban Crisis, 1996) and David Freund’s (Colored Property, 2007). Other studies like Brian Boyer’s (Cities Destroyed for Cash, 1973) study of predatory inclusion are undeveloped when they come to Detroit. This project will fill that gap by cataloguing and mapping information related to predatory inclusion.


What are the research methods?

This project draws on historical data sets including the WPA’s 1939 Detroit Housing Survey, the decennial census from 1940 – 2010, ACS 5-year estimates, the 2010 Detroit Residential Property Survey, and the 2015 Motor City Mapping Survey.

We use ArcGIS, Social Explorer, and the decennial census to map change over time.

We use newspaper articles, images, maps, and primary sources to investigate how federal and local housing policies, exploited by the real estate and financial sectors, created a segregated regional landscape and trapped Black families in poverty.

The deliverables of this research must be accessible to the general public.

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