Weitzman School of Design
The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation.
PublicationPredicting Housing Abandonment with the Philadelphia Neighborhood Information System(2003-01-01) Hillier, Amy E; Culhane, Dennis P.; Smith, Tony E; Tomlin, C. DanaSeveral large US cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Philadelphia, have developed information systems to distribute property-level housing data to community organizations and municipal agencies. These early warning systems are also intended to predict which properties are at greatest risk of abandonment, but they have rarely used statistical modeling to support such forecasts. This study used logistic regression to analyze data from the Philadelphia Neighborhood Information System in order to determine which properties were most likely to become imminently dangerous. Several different characteristics of the property, including whether it was vacant, had outstanding housing code violations, and tax arrearages as well as characteristics of nearby properties were identified as significant predictors. Challenges common to the development of early warning systems - including integrating administrative data, defining abandonment, and modeling temporal and spatial data - are discussed along with policy implications for cities like Philadelphia that have thousands of vacant and abandoned properties. PublicationRedlining and the Homeowners' Loan Corporation(2003-05-01) Hillier, Amy EThis article analyzes the impact of the residential security maps created by the Home Owners’Loan Corporation (HOLC) during the 1930s on residential mortgages in Philadelphia. Researchers have consistently argued that HOLC caused redlining and disinvestment in U.S. cities by sharing its color-coded maps. Geographic information systems and spatial statistical models were used to analyze address-level mortgage data from Philadelphia to determine if areas with worse grades actually had less access to residential mortgage credit as a result. Findings indicate that the grades on HOLC’s map do not explain differences in lending patterns with the exception of interest rates, which were higher in areas colored red. Archival material and journal articles from the 1930s also reveal that lenders were avoiding areas colored red before HOLC made its maps, that HOLC’s maps were not widely distributed, and that lenders had other sources of information about real estate risk levels. PublicationComment on James R. Cohen’s “Abandoned Housing: Exploring Lessons from Baltimore”(2001-01-01) Culhane, Dennis P.; Hillier, Amy EFor most cities, the possibility of transforming unused property into community and city assets is as yet hypothetical. Fiscal constraints limit the amount of land acquisition, relocation, and demolition that cities can undertake. Private investors, unsure of which neighborhoods have a chance of becoming self-sustaining, are reluctant to take risks in untested markets. Cities need to create citywide planning strategies for land aggregation and neighborhood stabilization and to develop analyses of the risks and opportunities associated with redevelopment opportunities in specific markets. Research seems sorely needed. Although the policy world cannot and will not stand still waiting for academics to design the perfect study or to collect all the data to model the potential effects of various policy options and investments, analysis that can play a more immediately supportive role can and should be done now. PublicationSpatial Analysis of Historical Redlining: A Methodological Explanation(2003-01-01) Hillier, Amy EDespite widespread belief that redlining contributed to disinvestment in cities, there has been little empirical analysis of historical lending patterns. The lack of appropriate data and clear definitions of redlining has contributed to this void. This article reviews definitions and methods that have emerged from research on lending in recent years and considers how they can be applied to research on historical redlining. Address-level mortgage data from Philadelphia from the 1940s are analyzed using spatial regression, “hot spot” analysis, and surface interpolation. Employing multiple definitions of redlining that focus on process and outcome, as well as spatial and statistical relationships in lending, the analyses result in a series of map layers that indicate where redlining may have occurred. In addition to providing some evidence of lending discrimination, this article promotes an explicitly spatial view of redlining that has conceptual and methodological implications for research on contemporary and historical redlining. PublicationIntegrating and Distributing Administrative Data to Support Community Change(2005-01-01) Hillier, Amy E; Culhane, Dennis P.An increasing number of groups are demanding access to information about the physical, economic, and social conditions in their communities. In addition to researchers, community development corporations, neighborhood associations, social service agencies, and municipal agencies all are becoming consumers of quantitative data. More powerful desktop computers, sophisticated data management software, enormous data storage devices, and expanding Internet access have increased exponentially the capacity of even small organizations to handle large amounts of data. However, none of these advances guarantees that organization staff will be able to make sense of these mountains of data. Perhaps more important, the advances do not enhance access to the most useful types of data that frequently reside behind municipal agency firewalls and layers of bureaucratic red tape. The growing demand for small-area administrative data in useful formats makes essential the development of new tools to support a wide range of community change efforts. PublicationRemoving Barriers to the Use of Community Information Systems(2005-01-01) Hillier, Amy E; Wernecke, Mary L; McKelvey, HeatherCommunity information systems (CINS) are emerging as important tools for community, government, and educational organizations. This paper considers the training, evaluation, and outreach efforts relating to the Philadelphia Neighborhood Information System (NIS), a collection of online applications that integrate and distribute housing and demographic data. It presents an overview of the types of NIS users and uses and some specific examples of how the NIS is being used for individual property inquiries, community surveys, needs assessments, and research. Finally, the paper discusses the barriers to more analytical uses and offers recommendations for social work education aimed at preparing social workers to support community organizations in their efforts to harness the potential of CINS for social change. PublicationCommunity Activists and University Researchers Collaborating for Affordable Housing: Dual Perspectives on the Experience(2005-01-01) Hillier, Amy E; Koppisch, DavidThis paper describes and analyzes the successful collaboration between the Philadelphia Affordable Housing Coalition and the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania. This collaboration resulted in a research study that helped the Coalition secure an additional $10 million for affordable housing in Philadelphia. The perspectives of the activist and researcher on the collaboration are presented in their own voices and they describe their expectations, efforts to build relationships, define roles, and deal with different work styles and culture. Recommendations for building effective research partnerships are also provided. PublicationClosing the Gap: Housing (un)Affordability in Philadelphia(2003-03-01) Hillier, Amy E; Culhane, Dennis P. PublicationWho Received Loans? Home Owners' Loan Corporation Lending and Discrimination in Philadelphia in the 1930's(2003-02-01) Hillier, Amy EThe lending record of the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) has received little attention compared with HOLC’s residential security maps. Specifically, the extent to which HOLC practiced racial and ethnic discrimination in the process of making and servicing more than a million loans to homeowners during the Depression has not been carefully examined. Using primary sources including HOLC publications, newspaper articles, 1930 census data, and mortgage records from Philadelphia, this research shows that HOLC did make loans to African Americans, Jews, and immigrants. Evidence suggests, however, that HOLC supported racial segregation in the process of reselling properties acquired through foreclosure. PublicationResidential Security Maps and Neighborhood Appraisals. The Homeowners' Loan Corporation and the Case of Philadelphia(2005-07-01) Hillier, Amy EAt the request of the Home Loan Bank Board, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) created color-coded maps for cities across the country between 1935 and 1940 that indicated risk levels for long-term real estate investment. Involvement in this City Survey Program marked a departure from the original mission of HOLC to provide new mortgages on an emergency basis to homeowners at risk of losing their homes during the Depression. This article considers why HOLC made these maps, how HOLC created them, and what the basis was for the grades on the maps. Geographic information systems and spatial regression models are used to show that racial composition was a significant predictor of map grades, controlling for housing characteristics.