Dis/possessory Data Politics

McElroy, Erin. "Dis/possessory Data Politics: From Tenant Screening to Anti-Eviction Organizing.” International Journal of Urban and Region Research, 47, no. 1 (2023): 54–70.

In this article I place tenant screening data grabbing practices in tension with the ongoing work of housing justice-based tool making. While the tenant screening industry has spent decades amassing eviction data to facilitate the blocklisting of tenants with prior eviction records and thereby reifying racial capitalist geographies, housing organizers today rely on some of this same data to illuminate evictor networks and organize anti-eviction campaigns. This has been particularly important in the wake of corporate landlordism in which evictions are executed through opaque shell companies. Tenant-made tools attempt to undo this uneven landscape in which landlords own troves of data about tenants, but in which tenants don’t even know their own landlords’ names. While opening up all eviction data to the public might appear to be an antidote, doing so can also provide screening companies with even more data to use in blocklisting. In my examination of this conjuncture, I forge the analytic of dis/possessory data politics to map out the violence of tenant screening data predation while also problematizing the technoliberal impulse to open up all eviction data. Yet dis/possessory data politics also attest to care and coalition work marked by practices of possession beyond logics of theft, banishment and techno solutionism.