Forced relocation and residential instability among urban renters

Matthew Desmond, Carl Gershenson, Barbara Kiviat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Residential instability often brings about other forms of instability in families, schools, and communities that compromise the life chances of adults and children. Social scientists have found that low-income families move frequently without fully understanding why. Drawing on novel data of more than 1,000 Milwaukee renters, this article explores the relationship between forced relocation and residential instability. It finds that low incomes are associated with higher rates of mobility due to poorer renters’ greater exposure to forced displacement. Not only do higher rates of formal and informal eviction, landlord foreclosure, and building condemnation directly increase the mobility of poorer renters, but forced displacement also increases subsequent unforced mobility. A forced move often compels renters to accept substandard housing, which drives them to soon move again. This article reveals mechanisms of residential mobility among low-income renters, identifies previously undocumented consequences of forced displacement, and develops a more comprehensive model of residential instability and urban inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-262
Number of pages36
JournalSocial Service Review
Volume89
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 30 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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