Researchers map Tucson's history of race-restricted neighborhoods

Aug. 31, 2023
Researchers map Tucson's history of race-restricted neighborhoods

TUCSON, Ariz. — The University of Arizona School of Geography, Development, and Environment hosted a completion event for the Mapping Racist Covenants, or MRC, project, which follows the history of institutional housing restrictions in Tucson and the effect on communities of color and marginalized groups.

The MRC project is part of a three-year $750,000 digital borderlands grant from University Libraries, funded by the Mellon Foundation. The project explores the geography of racist covenants across Tucson neighborhoods and subdivisions, focusing on those enacted between 1912-1968.

“The Mapping Racist Covenants project exemplifies how library services, digital scholarship tools, community engagement, and faculty expertise can combine to reveal new insights into the past and inform a better future for fair and equitable housing practices in Tucson,” said Shan C. Sutton, dean of University Libraries and principal investigator for the Digital Borderlands grant. 

During the event, project director Jason Jurjevich, assistant professor of Geography, Development & Environment, and his team unveiled a new interactive map that documents 56 years of race-based neighborhood covenants in the Tucson area.

The map includes race/ethnicity data from the 1930, 1960, and 2020 decennial U.S. Census that allow Tucsonans and other users to visualize how these rules still impact homebuyers today. 

"This story needs to be told. Racist covenants are a significant but largely unexplored example of institutional housing discrimination,” said Jurjevich. “Our results demonstrate the broad geography of racist covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CCRs) across Tucson neighborhoods, which made it difficult, and often impossible, for people of color and other minoritized communities to secure fair housing and achieve equal opportunity.”

A community panel discussed individual and family connections to racist housing covenants, the legacy of discriminatory housing practices, housing equity more broadly and community next steps. 

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The following participants spoke at the event:

  • Ann Chanecka, Interim Director, Tucson Housing & Community Development
  • Marion Chubon, Program Coordinator, Pima County Recorder's Office
  • Lynn Davis, Director, Jewish Community Relations Council
  • Jane Zavisca, Associate Dean, Research & Graduate Studies, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Arizona
  • Jason Jurjevich, School of Geography, Development & Environment, MRC Project Director

Community Panel

  • Stewart Chan, Tucson Chinese Cultural Center
  • Liane Hernandez, YWCA Southern Arizona
  • Marco Liu, Community Member
  • Delano Price, African American Museum of Southern Arizona
  • Liane Wong, San Gabriel Neighborhood Association and Tucson Real Estate Agent

Community Partners include African American Museum of Southern ArizonaTucson Chinese Cultural CenterTucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust CenterCity of Tucson Housing & Community Development and Southwest Fair Housing Council.


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