Maianna Voge* - George Washington University
This paper is a critical spatial and economic geography analysis of the foreclosure crisis as it unfolded in Stockton, California. The process of market deregulation and banking privatization that allowed local mortgage risk to be globally distributed began decades before the financial crisis. These forces set up extreme market and neighborhood instability - laying the groundwork for a drop in home values that precipitated a global recession. At the same time, the demand for these profitable financial products rewarded predatory lending practices. Because of ethnic and racial targeting by predatory lenders, the crisis subsequently led to a substantial loss of personal wealth in minority neighborhoods. Stockton, a small city in California's Central Valley, had one of the nation's highest foreclosure rates and is an excellent example of how issues of race, lending practices and regional economics map onto one another. The paper discusses factors that contributed to this crisis, including the increasing liquidity and globalization of capital, local practices of redlining, and a state-wide housing bubble. Using GIS and qualitative interviews, the paper demonstrates how these factors operating on numerous scales coalesced to produce a concentrated crisis. The California housing bubble was one of the largest and most explosive in the nation, and the paper analyzes the unique spatial pattern of foreclosures across the state, particularly in exurban fringe areas like Stockton. In conclusion, the paper tells a historical and spatial story of why and how Stockton faced such high foreclosure rates, and why foreclosures were concentrated in certain neighborhoods.