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Phil Ashton, PhD, Associate Professor

Phil Ashton joined the Urban Planning and Policy Program at UIC in August 2005. Initially trained as a political scientist and an urban planner, he worked as a technical assistance provider for existing and startup consumer cooperatives in Canada and the United States. For six years, he was a research associate at the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University, investigating neighborhood change in Newark, NJ and large scale urban redevelopment in Camden, NJ. He has also been a research consultant for the Fannie Mae Foundation.

Currently, Phil’s research focuses on three inter-related areas. His primary scholarly focus is the restructuring of US retail finance and its relationship to US central cities. His approach combines the methods of economic geography and industrial organization with theoretical frameworks emphasizing power relations between debtors and creditors. He has used this to produce a series of analyses of the subprime mortgage market that critique conventional interpretations of how minority borrowers and neighborhoods will fare in the “new financial marketplace.” His dissertation, which focused on subprime lenders and large financial conglomerates in inner city Chicago, was honored as the 2006 Best Dissertation by the Association for Collegiate Schools in Planning. He has published work in this area in leading journals, including theUrban Affairs Review and Environment & Planning A (see below). With his UIC colleagues Rachel Weber and Marc Doussard, he has recently turned his attention to the role of investment banks and infrastructure funds in producing the growing market for urban infrastructure assets, including long-term leases for Chicago’s Skyway and parking meters.

A second line of research examines the neighborhood effects of broad changes in financial markets and urban policy, attempting to distinguish the different paths to neighborhood change that have accompanied the marketization of urban redevelopment. With his colleague Kathe Newman at Rutgers, he conducted a detailed study of real estate development in the West Side Park neighborhood in Newark, NJ. He was part of a team conducting a study of neighborhood changes produced by concentrated subprime lending in Chicago, and has recently turned to analyzing neighborhood recovery from concentrated foreclosures.

Third, Phil is interested in the modes of credit market regulation capable of shaping a progressive path within financial sector reform. He has written on the Community Reinvestment Act and on the tensions in various civil rights frameworks as they have been applied to questions of credit access. More recently, he has engaged in a series of analyses of ad hoc financial regulation, including emergency banking interventions and legal settlements with large subprime lenders over lending abuses. The latter topic will be his focus while a Visiting Scholar at the American Bar Foundation in 2013-2014.

Phil has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Winnipeg, a Masters in Urban Planning from McGill University, and a Ph.D. from Rutgers University.

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Research Interests

Housing finance; geographies of money and credit; financial regulation; infrastructure privatization; inner city markets.

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UPP 494 Senior Capstone in Urban & Public Affairs
UPP 501 Urban Space, Place and Institutions
UPP 530 Economic Development I: Analysis
UPP 533 Development Finance Analysis
UPP 535 Community Reinvestment: Building Access to Capital
UPP 545 Community Development PhD Seminar
UPP 541 Community Development II: Practice
UPP 594 PhD Seminar: Property, Equality & Urban Theory

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Recognition / Awards

UIC Silver Circle Award (for undergraduate teaching), 2011
Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Best Dissertation, 2006

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Ashton, Philip, Doussard, Marc, and Rachel Weber. 2012. The financial engineering of infrastructure privatization: What are public assets worth to private investors? Journal of the American Planning Association 78 (3): 300-312.

Ashton, Philip. 2012. ‘Troubled assets’: The financial emergency and racialized risk. International Journal of Urban & Regional Research 36 (4): 773-790.

Ashton, Philip. 2011. The financial exception and the reconfiguration of credit risk in US mortgage markets. Environment & Planning A 43 (8): 1796-1812.

Ashton, Philip. 2010. CRA’s ‘blind spots’: Community reinvestment and concentrated subprime lending in Detroit. Journal of Urban Affairs 32 (5): 579-608.

Ashton, Philip. 2009. An appetite for yield: The anatomy of the subprime mortgage crisis. Environment & Planning A 41 (6): 1420-1441.

Crump, Jeff, Newman, Kathe, Belsky, Eric, Ashton, Philip, Kaplan, David H., Hammel, Daniel J., and Wyly, Elvin. Cities destroyed (again) for cash: Forum on the US foreclosure crisis. Urban Geography 29 (8): 745-784.

Ashton, Philip. 2008. Advantage or disadvantage? The changing institutional landscape of underserved mortgage markets. Urban Affairs Review 43 (3): 352-402.

Pendras, Mark, Lake, Robert, and Philip Ashton. 2005. Review of Neil Brenner, Bob Jessop, Martin Jones, and Gordon Macleod, eds., State/Space.Environment & Planning D: Society and Space 23(4): 313-314.

Newman, Kathe, and Philip Ashton. 2004. Neoliberal Urban Policy and New Paths of Neighborhood Change in the American Inner City. Environment and Planning A 36 (7): 1151-1172.

Ashton, Philip, Lake, Robert, and Mark Pendras. 2004. Review of Nicholas Blomley, David Delaney, and Richard T. Ford, eds., The Legal Geographies Reader.Political Geography 23 (2): 229-231.

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Room 231 (MC 348)

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