Building inspectors must regularly make difficult – and sometimes surprising – choices that can significantly impact lower-income homeowners, owner-occupants of small multifamily buildings, and the tenants in those buildings. Requiring expensive repairs to address code violations can impose untenable financial burdens on some owners, many of them older households and/or households of color. But not requiring those repairs may expose owners and tenants to unsafe living conditions. In this talk, Robin Bartram, an assistant professor of sociology at Tulane University will discuss her book, Stacked Decks: Building Inspectors and the Reproduction of Urban Inequality. Drawing on her extensive research into code enforcement in Chicago, Bartram will show that building inspectors often make surprising choices about who to cite (and who not to cite) and discuss how these choices underscore the continuing challenge of persistent inequality.
Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies