June 2020

Exploitative Revenues, Law Enforcement, and the Quality of Government Service

June 23, 2020 // 0 Comments

By Rebecca Goldstein (Harvard University), Michael W. Sances (University of Memphis), and Hye Young You (New York University) | One aspect of recent criticism of police departments has been centered on the aggressive imposition and collection of fees, fines, and civilly forfeited assets. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri police department, for example, revealed that a key driver of the behavior of the Ferguson police was the desire to generate municipal revenue by issuing traffic tickets and imposing fees. More broadly, a growing body of evidence indicates that local police departments are being used to provide revenue for municipalities by imposing and collecting fees, fines, and asset forfeitures: Census of Governments data from 2012 shows that about 80 percent of American cities with law enforcement institutions derive at least some revenue from fees, fines, and asset forfeitures, with about 6 percent of cities collecting more than 10 percent of their revenues from fines in 2012 (Sances and You 2017). Are the police engaged in this fee and fine collection at the expense of other important activities? Read More

A Note from the Editors

June 18, 2020 // 0 Comments

We have all been rocked by the murder of George Floyd. Transformational change to policing in cities throughout the world has been demanded for decades, but the racism, excessive force, and unaccountable behavior have persisted alongside discriminatory practices in other areas of urban life - work, housing, health, education - that have long denied life and livelihoods to Black and Indigenous people of color. This time must be different. As we know better than most, truly transformational change is not achieved without a real understanding of the problem or potential solutions. Our community of urban scholars has long been engaged in the work needed to make clear how these issues harm our society, and most especially people of color. From time to time, we will highlight research from UAR to help your efforts to push our knowledge forward and make this time different. Read More

The Privileged Few: How Exclusionary Zoning Amplifies the Advantaged and Blocks New Housing—and What We Can Do About It

June 5, 2020 // 0 Comments

Editor's Note: This post by Katherine Levine Einstein (Boston University) is the second of three posts based on the Exclusionary Zoning Colloquy published in 2019. The entire colloquy is available here. Check back soon for another response from Edward Goetz (University of Minnesota). If you missed the first post by David Imbroscio (University of Louisville) you can read that here. Read More

Capitalizing on Collapse: An Analysis of Institutional Single-Family Rental Investors

June 3, 2020 // 0 Comments

By By Gregg Colburn (University of Washington), Rebecca Walter (University of Washington), and Deirdre Pfeiffer (Arizona State University) | A well-documented consequence of the recent foreclosure crisis was a pronounced dislocation in the single-family home market. Large institutional buyers backed with Wall Street capital emerged to capitalize on this dislocation. These firms acquired hundreds of thousands of single-family homes to create a pool of institutionally-owned single-family rentals (SFRs) in markets across the U.S. Existing research highlights both positive and negative effects of this investor activity. Analyses suggest that home purchases and subsequent investments by these actors have reduced vacancies and aided recovery from the housing bust, however, studies also show associations between institutional investment in SFRs and increases in home prices and evictions. Read More