2020 Urban Research Award: The Politics of Rent: Power & Inequality in Low-Income Neighborhoods

PI: Nicholas J. Henninger, MPP, PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
Co-PI: Katherine L. Einstein, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, College of Arts & Sciences

Landlords in low-income urban areas hold immense economic and political power relative to their tenant populations. Depending on their motivations, resources, and ability, landlords can be harbingers of a neighborhood’s bright or bleak future.

photo of Nicholas Henninger
Nicholas Henninger

This project uses “big data” to better understand the landlords operating in low-income neighborhoods in cities across the United States and how they utilize their economic and political power to impact urban politics. Analyzing every rental property in more than twenty US cities, the investigators will analyze how the types, demographics, and geographic proximity of landlords vary across the urban space, and during processes of neighborhood change. These analyses will then be matched to a thorough cataloguing of landlords’ political behavior utilizing comprehensive voter files, political donation data, and data about other requests to local and state governments. Overall, this project will show that landlords can have distinct policy preferences relative to their tenants, and that they utilize their overlapping political and economic power to alter urban politics.