Tax Foreclosure, Racialized Dispossession, and Belonging in Post-2008 Detroit


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Since 2008, Wayne County, Michigan has issued more than 255,000 foreclosure notices to Detroit homeowners for falling three years behind on property taxes, resulting in the yearly January bloom of yellow-bagged notices stapled to wooden stakes pounded into the frozen ground. Detroit’s sizable black population, many of whom live near the poverty line, have felt the greatest impact of the resulting yearly auction. This dissertation regards Wayne County tax foreclosures not simply as a mundane state process, but rather as a dual form of racialized dispossession that occurs individually and collectively by destroying neighborhoods through dereliction and demolition. Foreclosure, census, demolition, and school closure data from 2008 to 2017 are mapped to show the total impact of tax foreclosure on Detroit’s neighborhoods.