Policy Research Collaborative

The Policy Research Collaborative is an interdisciplinary, applied research and technical assistance center at Roosevelt University working with community partners to address social inequities and strengthen communities through transformative policy research and advocacy.

[Position Closed] The Long-term Toll of Lost Housing Equity on Chicago’s African American Families

We are seeking motivated Chicago-area undergraduate and graduate students to join a 10-member team in Summer 2018 that will research housing data for a study to determine the financial impact that predatory house-purchase contract sales had on black homeowners in Chicago’s racially transitioning communities.

Sign at Contract Buyers League Pulaski Road Office [Atlantic Magazine]

If you are interested in joining us for this research project, please send the following materials via e-mail to prc@roosevelt.edu, with the subject line, “Housing Equity Research Assistant – [Your Name]”:

  1. A cover letter articulating your specific interest in this project; and,
  2. A current resume or CV.

Positions are expected to start mid-May for up to 40 hours per week at $15/hour, for an eight-week period. Apply now!

From the 1940s through the 1960s, Chicago was the site of the widespread practice of providing long-term contract home sales to aspiring black homeowners. Locked out of regular mortgage markets by the redlining of their neighborhoods, tens of thousands of families had to turn to a predatory submarket of no-equity loans. This type of financing allowed the loan sellers to maintain title to the property until the contract was paid in full. If the borrowers missed just one or two payments they could be legally evicted and lose all they had invested in their homes, which often included their entire life savings.

The Nathalie Voorhees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, and the Policy Research Collaborative at Roosevelt University are conducting a joint research project to determine the financial impact that predatory house-purchase contract sales had on black homeowners in Chicago’s racially transitioning communities during the 1950’s and 60’s.

There has never been a study that targets a specific area within a specific community, block by block and house by house, to gauge the individual and then cumulative impact of this historic form of predatory lending. This path- breaking research strategy will enable the first accurate measurement of how much money was actually “plundered” from our study’s target communities, once magnets for aspiring homeowners and now some of the poorest communities in Chicago.

Student researchers will be trained to conduct title searches in Chicago’s Cook County Recorder of Deeds Office in order to locate relevant deeds and contracts. The data will be compiled and analyzed for a published report that will be issued to the public at a city-wide symposium in October 2018. Research findings will also be included in the documentary series Shame of Chicago, currently in production.

Contract Buyers LeagueHousing and Economic MobilityNathalie Voohees Center for Neighborhood and Community Improvement at UICRacial EquitySamuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke UniversityStudent Hiring

Laura Nussbaum-Barberena • April 15, 2018


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