License Suspension and Gentrification in Durham

Project Team

Team photo.
Members of the team at the 2023 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase on April 19, 2023

Millions of people in the U.S., including tens of thousands in Durham County, have had their driver’s licenses suspended for failure to pay fines from traffic citations. Racial and ethnic minorities, in particular Black Americans, are much more likely to have a driver’s license revoked, which contributes to other systemic racial inequalities, such as inequalities in the labor or housing markets.

Building on the work of the 2021-2022 team, one subteam investigated the impact of driver’s license revocation in Durham, where 46,000 county residents have a revoked or suspended license — approximately half due to failure to appear in court or pay fines. Members of the driver’s license subteam cleaned, coded and synthesized interviews with participants in the Durham Expunction & Restoration (DEAR) program, which waives unpaid traffic tickets and fines to help individuals get their licenses back. Team members also conducted further interviews for qualitative analysis to better understand the experiences of both program workers and participants.

Another subteam investigated how the Low-Income Homeowners Relief program created by the Durham Department of Social Services could affect individuals struggling to pay property taxes in the rapidly gentrifying city. They created a research protocol, conducted interviews with homeowners and developed preliminary policy recommendations.

Freedom to Move: Durham Driver's License Access and the DEAR Program

Poster by Anna Gassman-Pines, Clinton Boyd Jr., Adrienne Jones, Mary Lauren Veazey, Jenny Li, Audrey Wang and Jazmin Richter (winner, 2023 Bass Connections Poster Competition)

Research poster.

Supporting Low-Income Homeowners Through Property Tax Relief

Poster by Anna Gassman-Pines, Warren Lowell, Brianna Johnson, Camilla Hanson and Rakshita Ramakrishna

Research poster.