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This project investigates forms of investment in residential property that began to emerge in the lead up to the 2008 financial crisis, which have since morphed and firmly taken hold. Focused on Philadelphia, PA, the analysis traces the new geographies of real estate purchases made specifically by investors who do not intend to live in the homes they are buying. The project uses a mixed methods approach to uncover how houses purchased as investment vehicles between 2000-2018 have been concentrated spatially, then compares these patterns with the geography of houses that have been purchased as homes.
The research shows that investors have consistently focused their efforts on Philadelphia neighborhoods with a higher proportion of residents of color and lower incomes. As well, over the nineteen-year span covered by the data, it is clear that investor activity not only played a large role in the housing bubble in Philadelphia, but is also continuing to grow as a percentage of overall purchases, and is expanding into new areas of the city. Principally, the project reveals that the geographies of purchases by investors and owner-occupants are largely distinct–investor ownership is fueling a separate housing geography and is not merely a part of the overall housing market.
In the context of Philadelphia, the project brings together research on the political economic implications of financialization in housing together, neighborhood-level impacts of house 'flipping’, as well as the new single-family rental (SFR) asset class.
An interactive map of each county in each state proposing how COVID-19 vaccinations could be distributed is now publicly available, providing an important tool for policymakers and the public alike to analyze the differences between multiple distribution strategies as well as issues surrounding equity and vulnerability of at-risk groups.
The map was created by the Center for Spatial Research (CSR) at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) and the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) of the Yale Law School and Yale School of Public Health. It is the next phase of their collaborative project—Mapping the New Politics of Care — with this latest effort focused solely on COVID-19 vaccine allocation.
“With over 250 million adults still needing vaccines across the country, who will be first in line to receive them?” said Amy Kapczynski Professor of Law at Yale Law School and faculty co-director of GHJP. “All people in the United States have been granted the right to have access to free, safe, and effective COVID-19 vaccines. This map will help make sure that this is done fairly and equitably.”
In the context of limited supplies, states have enacted policies prioritizing specific groups based on reasonable — but subjective — weighing of scientific, practical, and ethical evidence and values, according to the Columbia and Yale teams. The new map shows how prioritizing different groups for vaccination shifts the terrain of vaccine allocation and impacts which communities are protected first.
The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommended that the first phase (1a) of vaccine roll-out, which began in December 2020, prioritize health care personnel and long-term care facility residents. In their guidance, ACIP explicitly cited evidence that prioritizing Phase 1a groups would mitigate health inequities due to “the disproportionate representation of racial and ethnic minority groups” amongst low-wage health care personnel and that residents in the lowest-rated long-term care facilities “are more likely to serve patients experiencing social or economic disadvantage and are more likely to have COVID-19-associated outbreaks.”
However, other scientific advisory bodies, such as the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, have suggested that in addition to these specific kinds of target populations, vaccine allocation take into account the geographic disparities across the United States making these same population groups more or less vulnerable given the local social and economic conditions in place. NASEM therefore recommended that the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) be used to further guide vaccine distribution and many states are using this index to do just that.
“The SVI is an important metric to manage, monitor and evaluate our progress towards equity in vaccine distribution,” said Laura Kurgan, professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and director of the CSR. “We’re already seeing disparities in vaccination across the country with Black Americans significantly trailing in immunization, which underscores the importance of focusing on social vulnerability and in particular race and ethnicity moving forward.”
The map created by Yale and Columbia enables the comparison of four COVID-19 vaccine allocation scenarios at the county level, including:
These comparisons highlight the trade-offs of competing strategies: between each pair of maps, one can see the respective number of vaccine doses allocated to each county and therefore which populations and communities are protected first. In some cases users will see the rank ordering of which counties get more doses change with your choices as well. For example:
As of January 18, 2020, Maryland had been allocated 417,925 first doses, or enough to cover approximately 9 percent of its estimated adult population of 4,677,166. Selecting Prince George’s County, a suburb of Washington, D.C. that has the second largest population in Maryland, illustrates the teams’ points about equity in allocation:
The map illustrates that no scenario is neutral. Each prioritization reflects an explicit or implicit valuation, as well as the logistical challenges of distributing vaccine doses to hundreds of millions of Americans as quickly as possible. The project visualizes the differences and trade-offs between each of these choices in the hopes that a more nuanced understanding of the options will lead to more informed and ethical outcomes, according to those involved.
“We don’t have to use the SVI to make vaccine allocation decisions directly, but understanding who is likely to be left behind might enable states to make targeted investments in outreach, distribution facilities, and health care capacity in order to mitigate the impact of existing inequality,” said Gregg Gonsalves, Assistant Professor at the Yale School of Public Health and Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Law and GHJP’s faculty co-director.
The map only shows vaccine allocations under Phase 1a, as collecting data on health care workers and residents of long-term care facility residents at a county level was possible with these groups. The next phase, 1b, includes a broader, diverse category of frontline essential workers — including numerous kinds of professions — as well as individuals over 75 years of age, which makes it harder to develop estimates of the size of these new populations, according to the researchers.
“We also would have liked to pin our own estimates in these scenarios to actual vaccine allocations by county but this data is not available nationwide,” said Dare Brawley, assistant director of the CSR. “Even now it’s clear that disparities are arising across the country, with white Americans two to three times more likely to have been vaccinated than their Black American counterparts, which shows our concerns about equity and vulnerability have not been misplaced.”
The Mapping the New Politics of Care project team consists of Laura Kurgan, Dare Brawley, Jia Zhang of the CSR (all bios here) and Gregg Gonsalves, Suzan Iloglu and Tommy Thornhill of the GHJP and Yale School of Public Health and David Herman of the GHJP and Yale Law School.
The Center for Spatial Research was established in 2015 as a hub for urban research that links design, architecture, urbanism, the humanities and data science. It sponsors research and curricular activities built around new technologies of mapping, data visualization, data collection, and data analysis. CSR focuses on data literacy as well as interrogating the world of “big data,” working to open up new areas of research and inquiry with advanced design tools to help scholars, students as well as our collaborators and audiences, to understand urbanization worldwide –– past present and future.
The Global Health Justice Partnership was established in 2012 to promote interdisciplinary, innovative, and effective responses to global health disparities. It is a transformative collaboration that integrates different fields in order to make critical policy interventions. Building on Yale’s institutional assets, the GHJP trains students in law, public health, global affairs, and other fields to undertake collaborative, real-world research and advocacy to promote health justice. It also organizes pathbreaking conferences and events, builds partnerships with local NGOs around the world to move research into action, and nurtures a truly interdisciplinary brain trust dedicated to effecting social change.
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Mapping the New Politics of Care links the effects of COVID-19 in the United States with a wide range of social, economic, and environmental conditions.
It compares four indexes of vulnerability alongside COVID-19 data and presents multiple options for addressing the effects of the pandemic with a Community Health Corps.
These conditions and vulnerabilities predated the pandemic and created the conditions for the virus to flourish in this country. The map displays the acute inequalities embedded in the social and political landscape of the United States. This pandemic is not simply biological. It is a symptom of an illness in our body politic. As SARS-CoV-2 roars across the country, it is following the fault lines of social vulnerability.
As the New York Times reported in July 2020, “Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups.”Repairing the wounds of this pandemic means confronting the policy decisions made long ago that have led us to this moment. As we try to combat this disease, we have to think more broadly about rebuilding health from the ground up in the United States.
The project builds on a series of essays on a new politics of care written by our collaborators, Gregg Gonsalves and Amy Kapczynski at the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) of the Yale Law School and Yale School of Public Health. Together CSR and the GHJP are calling for a New Deal for Public Health, which addresses the acute needs of the pandemic response but also makes a larger national commitment to lifting up the health of our communities, protects the public’s health, and confronts the legacy of vulnerabilities that existed before the emergence of SARS-CoV-2. A new Community Health Corps must be integrated into our communities, providing economic support and social services to start to undo the vulnerabilities that plague us. We call this a new politics of care.
The Community Health Corps should be deployed across the United States. This map poses a series of questions and demands a set of options about how these care workers might be distributed to states and to counties within each state. Making these decisions responsibly requires confronting and addressing not just the virus and the disease but also the inequalities and vulnerabilities that underlie and propel this pandemic.
For immediate release:
An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Columbia and Yale Universities today unveiled an interactive map that guides policy makers and the public in deploying health care workers to communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The online map, Mapping the New Politics of Care, uses a wide array of up to date data. It shows that decisions about caring for those affected by the pandemic depend not just on surging or falling infection rates but instead on taking into account a range of pre-existing vulnerabilities in U.S. society.
The map reveals that the areas that appear most at risk within each state shift depending on how vulnerability is measured: from COVID-19 cases to unemployment rates, from COVID-19 deaths to formal metrics of health vulnerability such as Years of Potential Life Lost and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index.
“The COVID19 pandemic in the United States has exposed a crisis of care across the country,” said Yale Law Professor Amy Kapczynski of the Yale GHJP. “The failure of the federal response to the pandemic has demonstrated the stark inability of political leaders to rise to the basic challenge of protecting those living in the U.S. from a new and deadly virus. Yet, the long-standing vulnerabilities in our communities, the patchwork nature of our health system, the historic disinvestment in public health and the weakness of our safety net programs made the U.S. uniquely susceptible to a crisis just like this.”
The interactive map was created by a team from the Center for Spatial Research (CSR) at the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation(GSAPP) and the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) of the Yale Law School (YLS) and Yale School of Public Health (YSPH).
The researchers describe Mapping the New Politics of Care as a visual journey through the inequities and vulnerabilities that define the American landscape, using different definitions to describe communities at risk, down to the county level.
They propose a New Deal for Public Health, a national program to address acute needs of the pandemic response but also makes a larger national commitment to protecting and improving the public’s health, and confronts the legacy of vulnerabilities that existed before the emergence of SARS-CoV-2.
Central to this new project is the establishment of a Community Health Corps — a national investment in one million community health workers to be deployed across the country to face off with the COVID-19 pandemic while also starting to address decades of health inequity across the country.
“Mapping the New Politics of Care lets visitors to the site make those choices explicitly to see how the number of community health workers across a state shifts depending on what kinds of vulnerability matters to them,” said Laura Kurgan, Professor of Architecture and Director of CSR at Columbia. “It also shows the trade-offs in community health worker allocation between pairs of choices in defining vulnerability. It was important to us to show how vulnerability shapes the country we live in. COVID-19 is only the most current crisis facing cities and towns across the country; here we can show you where vulnerabilities existed long before the pandemic hit.”
Currently, the pandemic tracks certain kinds of pre-existing vulnerabilities and not others. Despite the absence of data to allow for allocations of community health workers in the U.S. based on lives or dollars saved, choices can still be made based on short-term needs of the pandemic or longer standing vulnerabilities.
“This new collaboration between the CSR and GHJP shows how public health, spatial data analysis, data visualization, design, and policy can be used to highlight, expose the social and economic vulnerabilities in America and the health outcomes that follow in their wake,” said Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Law Gregg Gonsalves of Yale’s GHJP. “As we confront the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to target the places that are hurting now, but those that have been no stranger to disease and ill health for generations in the U.S.”
The Mapping the New Politics of Care project team consists of Laura Kurgan, Dare Brawley, Jia Zhang of the CSR (all bios here) and Gregg Gonsalves, Suzan Iloglu and Tommy Thornhill of the GHJP and Yale School of Public Health. The project builds on a series of essays by GHJP co-directors Kapczynski and Gonsalves on a new politics of care.
The Center for Spatial Research was established in 2015 as a hub for urban research that links design, architecture, urbanism, the humanities and data science. It sponsors research and curricular activities built around new technologies of mapping, data visualization, data collection, and data analysis. CSR focuses on data literacy as well as interrogating the world of ‘big data,’ working to open up new areas of research and inquiry with advanced design tools to help scholars, students as well as our collaborators and audiences, to understand cities worldwide –– past present and future.