On Data

Radical Geography

And Milwaukee Evictions

Branden DuPont

Medical College of Wisconsin

Data As You May Know it

  • "facts and statistics collected together for reference or analysis."
  • pisd
  • grant reporting
  • budgets

Data Can Be

  • An indispensable tool to counter dominant narrative or convention
  • Address issues at a structural or system level
  • Challenge or highlight unequal power structures
  • Hold accountable abuse of power
  • Understand disparity

Mona Chalabi

W.E.B. Du Bois

  • W.E.B. Du Bois was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author, writer and editor.
  • Credits include: one of the founders and directors of the NAACP, socialist, authored numerous articles.
  • Created some of the first data visualizations that explained institutionalized racism to the world



Black Poverty Is Rooted in Real-Estate Exploitation

- Mark Whitehouse

- Predatory Housing Contracts: in two decades wealth land sales contracts expropriated from Chicago’s black community was between 3.2 and 4.0 billion dollars


- Redlining: outline areas with large black populations in red as a warning to mortgage lenders.  Isolated Black people in areas that would suffer lower levels of investment than their white counterparts.

Maps Can Cause Harm

Milwaukee Redlining Maps:

"In contemporary Milwaukee, the Halyard Park, Hillside and Haymarket neighborhoods, located just north of the city's downtown, were given a red rating. The rating was explained in the assessment with notes: "This is the Negro and slum area of Milwaukee. It is old and very ragged. Besides the colored people, a large number of lower type Jews are moving into the section." - Wiscontext

Radical or Critical Geography:


"use cartographic conventions—including data, images, and language— to analyze and represent power dynamics, as part of a collective effort working towards social change." - Lize Mogel

Civic Mapping In Detroit


  • Began in 1967, led by Dr. Bunge and Gwendolyn Warren
  • "The Expedition’s main concern was using geography for social justice and, specifically in Detroit, addressing racial injustice. As Dr. William Bunge wrote in the expedition’s first publication, Field Notes I, “Afterall, it is not the function of geographers to merely map the earth, but to change it.”

Non-local Ownership and Housing Exploitation in Milwaukee

  • "half of all rented properties are now owned by someone with an address outside of Milwaukee" - John Johnson

  • Median monthly rent is $600 in poor neighborhoods

  • "In Milwaukee the median rental unit located in a poor neighborhood produces a monthly profit of $151, after all expenses, while those in nonpoor neighborhoods, owing to large mortgage payments, make $21" - Desmond and Wilmers

  • "In some of the neighborhoods that I looked at, [residents are] paying the entire value of the home they are renting in four years" - John Johnson

- John Johnson, Marquette University Law School

Milwaukee Evictions

"Eviction is a cause, not just a consequence of poverty." Matt Desmond


  • Eviction work developed as a joint partnership between Legal Action, City of Milwaukee (DNS and City Attorney), and MCW
  • Common Council (Alderman Kovac initial sponsor) and Legal Action provided funding for the development of this work

Policymakers, Researchers, & Community Members Need Eviction Data

  • Difficult to understand drivers of eviction and design prevention strategies
  • No ability to monitor and identify trends
  • Community unable to view a properties eviction record
  • Conducting additional research prohibitive

Consider a Basic Question on Eviction

  • "He'll evict you in a minute" - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Youssef "Joe" Berrada's Use of Eviction
  • High eviction filing rate or does Berrada just own a large number of properties?

Data Needed To Construct an Eviction Filing Rate

  • Court records on eviction - small claims case
  • Address the eviction took place
  • Taxkey information for that address
  • The number of units at that property
  • The primary land use of the property (multi-family or single-two family)

Outcomes and Policy Changes

  • Provide stakeholders with a key source of data to inform housing policy and understand drivers of eviction
  • Understand relationship between habitability of rental housing and evictions
  • Case for civil gideon
  • Source for policy and media
  • Source for litigation
  • Among 4 cities in the United States to release eviction at the parcel level

What's Next?

  • More nuanced, ongoing understanding of the relationship between housing violations and evictions
  • Who Own's What project localized in Milwaukee


Public Allies Milwaukee Presentation

By Branden DuPont

Public Allies Milwaukee Presentation

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