Lafreniere Co-Authors Paper on Racist Housing Practices

housingstudiesAssistant Professor Don Lafreniere (SS) co-authored a paper, “Racist housing practices as a precursor to uneven neighborhood change in a post-industrial city” in the journal Housing Studies




Racial dynamics and discrimination have been extremely important in influencing decline in the American Rust Belt. The mid-twentieth century departure of white and middle-class populations from cities was precipitated by a breakdown of discriminatory housing practices. This study examines the relationship among housing condition, vacancies, poverty, and demographics in Flint, Michigan, from 1950 to 2010. Historical census data from the National Historical GIS and housing condition data from the City of Flint government are aggregated to neighborhoods defined by economic condition factor (n = 102). Results of rank-difference correlation and geographically weighted regression indicate that, across neighborhoods with the greatest decline in housing condition, the strongest correlate was most often the increase in vacancy rates driven initially by racially motivated suburbanization – suggesting that demographic change alone is not primarily responsible for neighborhood decline. This research is important to understanding the long-term and ongoing consequences of mid-twentieth century racist housing practices, particularly as it relates to the implications of maintaining legacy infrastructure.