Shifting Neighborhoods: Gentrification and Cultural Displacement in American Cities

Shifting Neighborhoods: Gentrification and Cultural Displacement in American Cities

While gentrification brings economic growth and better services to neighborhoods that have long suffered from disinvestment based on discriminatory practices, many longtime residents — most of whom are African American or Latinx — end up displaced by, instead of benefiting from, the influx of investment, a report from the National Community Reinvention Coalition finds. Based on census and economic data, the report, Shifting Neighborhoods: Gentrification and Cultural Displacement in American Cities (HTML or PDF, 34 pages), identified 1,049 tracts across the United States where increases in property values and residents' educational attainment and income levels indicate that gentrification occurred between 2000 and 2013. In 230 of those communities, soaring rents, property values, and taxes forced more than 135 residents to move. New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Diego, Chicago, and Washington, D.C., had the highest rates of gentrification, accounting for 501 tracts, or nearly half of all gentrified tracts nationwide. At the same time, most low- to moderate-income neighborhoods were not gentrified during the period studied — instead remaining impoverished, untouched by investment and building, and vulnerable to future gentrification and displacement. The findings lend weight, the report's authors write, to what critics of gentrification see as a concentration not only of wealth but also of wealth-building investment in just a handful of the largest metropolises. To address the situation, local advocates and officials should pursue policies that encourage investment and help current residents to stay and benefit from neighborhood revitalization efforts, while local banks should support the development of housing and financing options that help keep low- and moderate-income families in the community.