A Dream Denied: The Fight Against the Mass Eviction of Families in Chicago and Jacksonville, USA
This talk explores the impacts of the 2007-2008 U.S. foreclosure crisis in African-American communities within two of the hardest hit cities in the United States: Chicago, IL, and Jacksonville, FL. Homeownership has long been held as the primary means for households to accumulate wealth within American society, and is associated with values of freedom and individualism, and the American Dream. However, since 2007, a disproportionate number of Black homeowners have been evicted from their homes, and at an unprecedented rate. Often scripted in popular media as a crisis provoked by irresponsible borrowers, this research demonstrates how the subprime crisis was produced by federal policies and corporate lenders that targeted African-American consumers with predatory financial instruments. Subprime loans were introduced to the lending market as a lucrative business strategy to expand lending activities to those who would otherwise be denied access to credit. In turn, financialization transformed citizens into self-disciplining subjects tasked with managing their own risk by leveraging their human capital to build wealth and accumulate assets. Drawing on in-depth interviews with homeowners and key informants, I explore how the home was transformed into an investment asset closely tied to the global financial market through the securitization of mortgages. This transformation of the home from a dwelling to a new asset class allowed financial institutions to exploit and prey upon the historical systemic oppression of African Americans and other racialized groups. This talk highlights the effects of structural racism in housing markets as it combines with the financialization of risk, while it also outlines a range of public policy and grassroots community responses.
Nemoy Lewis received both his BA and MA degrees in Geography from the University of Toronto, and earned his PhD in Human Geography from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in 2018. For his doctoral research, Nemoy analyzed the ongoing foreclosures crisis in the United States and how it has affected the lives of racialized people and low-income communities in Chicago, Illinois and Jacksonville, Florida. For his Postdoctoral Research, Nemoy will explore the growing affordability problems impacting renters in racialized communities since the financialization of the rental markets in Canada and the United States.
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