Brockton, MA

In this new ethnographic project supported by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Sharon is studying first-time homeowners in Brockton, a post-industrial city 25 miles south of Boston. In the last two decades, this city has become especially attractive to Black first-time homebuyers, many of whom became Brockton homeowners after renting in Boston. In 2017, one in five mortgages extended to Black households across Massachusetts were in Brockton, even as this city only accounted for 1.7% of State-wide loans. That year, twice as many Black households bought houses in Brockton as in Boston, a city seven times its size. Brockton had taken over Boston’s historical place in Massachusetts as the top destination for Black homebuyers.

She draws on in-depth interviews and ethnography, to answer questions such as: Why were so many Black homebuyers in metro Boston buying in Brockton? How did residents who used to rent in Boston, experience the transition to owning in Brockton? What financial and practical challenges were first-time homeowners facing? This project will help sociologists and policy makers better understand core metropolitan changes – of gentrification, reinvestments in cities on the metropolitan fringe, and new forms of racial inequality that may emerge as a result – as well as how individuals experience this changing urban landscape. 

Media and research blogs:
Sharon Cornelissen and Alex Hermann. 2020. COVID-19 and Vulnerable Homeowners: National Trends and Voices from Brockton, Massachusetts 

Sharon Cornelissen and Alex Hermann. 2020. A Triple Pandemic? The Economic Impacts of COVID-19 Disproportionally Affect Black and Hispanic Households.

Benjamin Berke, The Enterprise, April 2020, Harvard Researcher Planning Book on Changing Demographics of Brockton

Brockton city hall