Starting in the summer of 2021, I led an investigative series for the Granite State News Collaborative that tried to understand why poverty and non-white commnities in New Hampshire's biggest city are so concentrated in certain neighborhoods, but relatively absent in others.
Our investigation showed that more than a hundred years of discriminatory housing policies, dating back to Manchester's founding and extending all the way to the present day, created and reinforced areas of persistent poverty. In those neighborhoods, these policies have negatively impacted many aspects of life, including crime, public health, and housing.
I conceptualized the series, working with editors from NH Business Review and Business NH Magazine. Early interviews pointed us toward the history of land use zoning, but we quickly realized that little info was available on this topic.
In fall 2021, I created a novel spatial dataset by georeferencing and overlaying the city's zoning maps dating back to 1929, when the first map was approved. This analysis showed that the areas in the city that suffered from chronic high poverty and high crime today have been consistently targeted by the zoning laws for high-density housing, while wealthier neighborhoods were reserved for single-family homes.
Finally, I wrote a three-part story that presented this data as part of a 180-year history. I showed that the city's present-day economic segregation actually began with the mill company that lorded over Manchester for the city's first 100 years, but that starting in the 1920s these patterns of discrimination were reinforced by land use zoning.
To see the rest of the articles in the series, click below:
Data and Research Editor
Granite State News Collaborative
June 2021 - Mar 2022
This project was my first attempt at conceptualizing and leading a data-driven investigative project from start to finish. By the end of 2022, our loosely-united team of editors and reporters from multiple outlets had published more than a dozen stories on the topic of land use zoning in New Hampshire, all based on my research and introductory stories.
The datasets we produced were published online without restrictions and have since been downloaded by a wide range of users, including the city of Manchester, a university researcher in the UK, a US-based conversation law advocacy group, and a major US-based engineering consultancy.
The series has been awarded a Publick Occurences from the New England Newspaper and Press Association and a Media Award from Housing Action NH.