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Saving Strong Neighborhoods From the Destruction of Mortgage Foreclosures: The Impact of Community-Based Efforts in Detroit, Michigan

Mortgage foreclosures hit Detroit, Michigan hard between 2005 and 2014, especially in what we define as strong neighborhoods; there, more than one third of homes experienced foreclosure. Before the crisis hit, these selected tracts had largely intact physical environments and higher owner occupancy, household income and property value than the citywide median. In some of them residents worked intensely to abate the neighborhood effects of mortgage foreclosures. This study examines those efforts’ effectiveness. We selected neighborhoods with the most extensive efforts, as measured, for instance, by creation of community-based plans and applications for grants, and we conducted interviews and field observations to examine those efforts. To assess strengthening of neighborhood housing markets, we applied a modified adjusted interrupted time-series approach to evaluate changes in prices as one measure of neighborhood change. We found that strong resident initiative supported by community development organizations and external assistance led to increased neighborhood housing prices, compared with comparable neighborhoods. However, when initiative, context, and support were weaker, community-based efforts could not prevent considerable decline.

Author: Lan Deng, Eric Seymour, Margaret Dewar & June Manning Thomas
Publication: Housing Policy Debate
Published: May 2017

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