Challenging Housing Injustice in Milwaukee

Maysam Abdeljaber, “Challenging Housing Injustice in Milwaukee”
Mentor: Arijit Sen, Architecture

This research is a part of a bigger project called “Climates of Inequality.” Organized by the Humanities Action Lab, a coalition of universities led by Rutgers University-Newark working with issue organizations and public spaces, this participatory public memory research project engaged students, educators, and community leaders from over 20 cities across the US and around the world in order to expose the roots of current environmental injustice, and share generations of frontline communities’ strategies for resistance, resilience, and mitigation. The Milwaukee community’s story is critical in this global vision and action around climate and environmental justice. The proposed paper situates the history of housing injustice in Milwaukee’s Northside neighborhoods within a timeline documenting explicit national housing policies starting with the 1862 Homestead Act up to present-day proposals. The purpose of this macro-scale policy-timeline is to comprehend the unjust consequences of national governmental decisions on housing conditions in Milwaukee. The timeline illuminates how national housing policies impact local (Milwaukee) housing trends around three distinct areas: (1) equitable housing, (2) homeownership, and (3) housing finance. In addition, this paper examines the granular everyday consequences of housing injustice by analyzing data collected from 7 local foreclosed homes in Sherman Park and Washington Park neighborhoods of Milwaukee. This includes a detailed study of the physical conditions, ownership history, and oral histories of residents of the neighborhoods. Despite the difficulties, the ethnographic research demonstrates community resilience, identifying ways in which residents resist injustice. This paper discusses specific local responses to ensure equitable housing, homeownership, and housing finance.

Click the thumbnail below to open the full sized poster in a new tab.


  1. Good work and great job in participating in this symposium.
    Some notes about your poster, so you can make improvements in your next presentation:
    Missing name and department on the poster
    The student call the poster a paper in the abstract. It sounds like copy and paste from somewhere. Please be careful next time.
    Fantastic job with timeline display.
    Poster looks great in general, but because this a group work, it is unclear the contribution of the student. There is no problem on presenting a team work. However, please remember to emphasize your contribution on your next presentation.
    Student could have used colors that would show more contrast.

  2. Awesome job Maysam! It’s really cool seeing all the laws and updates laid out in a timeline like this 🙂

  3. Thank you for your informative poster and abstract! Very comprehensive and nicely designed timeline. It represents a lot of work–well done! I found your description of your project’s scope, discussion and relevance well conceptualized and situated, but caution against making overly broad causal statements. Your presentation raised some questions for me or perhaps more of a suggestion, and that is to also consider how local policy and action may shape national policy. For example, much has been made of Wisconsin’s influence on New Deal legislation, and the same is true for federal welfare policy in the 1990s. And also thinking about social action you might point to the 200 days of open housing marches in Milwaukee and its role in influencing the Fair Housing Act. Also, I wonder what your thoughts are on the likely impact of the pandemic depression and what new forms of housing policy and practice might emerge, forbearance of loans, rent strikes, etc. Thanks for sharing your research!

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