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In the Face of Gentrification

Case Studies of Local Efforts to Mitigate Displacement

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Document date: March 17, 2006
Released online: March 17, 2006

The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders.

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).

The text below is a portion of the complete document.


Introduction

Concern, and anger, over gentrification has grown in communities across the country as housing rental and sales prices have soared. Housing markets strengthened during the 1990s along with the national economy, and have remained strong even while the economy began to slow down in the spring of 2000, one of the few sectors to do so. Decreases in affordable housing units have accompanied the higher prices in many places, and there are numerous reports of resident displacement from neighborhoods long ignored that now attract higher-income households.

Increased housing prices themselves are not a problem per se. It is when costs increase in predominantly lower-income neighborhoods where residents' incomes do not keep pace that displacement can occur. As housing prices increase, lower-income households are at risk of being pushed out or prevented from moving into certain geographic areas because of the prohibitive costs and limited household earnings. It is this geographic component, along with restricted economic opportunities, that makes gentrification-related displacement a problem.

Balancing the revitalization of neighborhoods while reducing the risk of displacement of low-income families poses a challenge for city officials and housing practitioners. In this study, we present strategies used by nonprofit organizations, for-profit developers, and city agencies to ensure low- to-moderate-income residents can live in revitalizing and gentrifying neighborhoods. We present strategies used in the following neighborhoods in 2003: Bartlett Park (St. Petersburg, Florida), Oak Park (Sacramento, California), Reynoldstown (Atlanta, Georgia), Figueroa Corridor (Los Angeles, California), Central Area (Seattle, Washington), and Uptown (Chicago, Illinois).

The types of strategies used to prevent displacement are influenced by a number of factors, including intensity of the housing market, local political climate and local organizational capacity. Through the case studies, we consider the impact of timing on strategy selection and implementation to untangle whether certain approaches work better in different housing-market contexts.

Note: This report is available in its entirety in the Portable Document Format (PDF).



Topics/Tags: | Cities and Neighborhoods | Housing


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