Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 390–402 | Cite as

Mortgage Foreclosure and Health Disparities: Serial Displacement as Asset Extraction in African American Populations

  • Susan SaegertEmail author
  • Desiree Fields
  • Kimberly Libman


In this paper we offer a conceptualization of mortgage foreclosure as serial displacement by highlighting the current crisis in the context of historically repeated extraction of capital—economic, social, and human—from communities defined at different scales: geographically, socially, and that of embodied individuals. We argue that serial displacement is the loss of capital, physical resources, social integration and collective capacity, and psycho-social resources at each of these scales, with losses at one level affecting other levels. The repeated extraction of resources has negative implications for the health of individuals and groups, within generations as well as across generations, through the accumulation of loss over time. Our analysis of the foreclosure crisis as serial displacement for African American households in the United States begins with the “housing niche” model. We focus on the foreclosure crisis as an example of the interconnectedness of structured inequality in health and housing. Then we briefly review the history of policies related to racial inequality in homeownership in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. We end with an analysis of the scales of displacement and the human, social, and capital asset extraction that accompany them.


Foreclosure Housing African American Health disparities Serial displacement Property loss 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Saegert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Desiree Fields
    • 2
  • Kimberly Libman
    • 2
  1. 1.Vanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Center City University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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