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Systems and structures of poverty – the profit of debt

The project: Household debt has been on the rise in the U.S. for the past three decades. These debts accrue in a variety of ways from attempting to climb the ladder of opportunity (student loans), seeking stability for one’s family (housing), making ends meet when money is tight (credit cards), getting sick or injured (health care), traveling to work (auto loans), or simply trying to keep the lights on (utilities). The growth of household debt is well studied, but what happens with that debt is far murkier and vital for understanding the contingent outcomes of indebted households and low-income communities. This project aimed to examine the role of debt in rising bankruptcy cases among low-income residents in Detroit and Flint as well as eviction pressures exacerbated by the pandemic. 

Joshua Akers, University of Michigan – Dearborn
Eric Seymour, Rutgers University