Gentrification and Displacement N...
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE This article was downloaded by: [University of Trento] On: 20 November 2009 Access details: Access Details: [subscription number 908990688] Publisher Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37- 41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of the American Planning Association Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t782043358 Gentrification and Displacement New York City in the 1990s Lance Freeman Frank Braconi To cite this Article Freeman, Lance and Braconi, Frank'Gentrification and Displacement New York City in the 1990s', Journal of the American Planning Association, 70: 1, 39 ��� 52 To link to this Article: DOI: 10.1080/01944360408976337 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01944360408976337 Full terms and conditions of use: http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdf This article may be used for research, teaching and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, re-distribution, re-selling, loan or sub-licensing, systematic supply or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden. The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of any instructions, formulae and drug doses should be independently verified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings, demand or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
D uring the past several decades, neighborhoods in a number of cities have experienced gentrification���a dramatic shift in their demographic composition toward better educated and more affluent residents. If it continues, this reurbanization of the middle and professional classes presents a historic opportunity to reverse central-city decline and to further other widely accepted societal goals. Many cities face fiscal problems because higher income households have migrated to the suburbs and disadvantaged (poor and less educated) households are concentrated in the urban core. These problems could be ameliorated if wealthier households increasingly settle within central cities, raising taxable income and property values and stimulating retail activity and sales tax proceeds (Miesowski & Mills, ������������). If it proceeds without widespread displacement, gentrification also offers the opportunity to increase socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic integration. An increasing middle class in central-city neighborhoods, to the degree that it in- cludes White households, could help desegregate urban areas and, eventually, their school districts (Lee et al., ������������). Moreover, the concentrated poverty that is thought to diminish the life chances of the poor might be reduced if middle- income residents settle in formerly depressed neighborhoods (Wilson, ������������). In addition, existing residents of inner-city neighborhoods could benefit directly from gentrification if it brings new housing investment and stimulates additional retail and cultural services. Furthermore, the infusion of residents with more political influence may help the community to procure better public serv- ices. The employment prospects of low-income residents could also be enhanced if gentrification contributes to local job creation or if informal job information networks are enriched by an influx of working residents. Despite these potential benefits, local populations and community activists often oppose the gentrification of urban neighborhoods. Although the rhetoric of resistance sometimes expresses class and racial resentments, the principal concern is usually that lower-income households are vulnerable to displacement resulting from redevelopment projects or rising rents. A common response is for activists to pressure local government for more affordable housing development, to orga- nize community development corporations for that end, or to establish service programs that provide legal or financial assistance to renters who face eviction. In ������ Gentrification has been viewed by some as a solution to many of the problems facing older central cities. At the same time, many are wary of the potential for gentrification to displace disadvantaged residents. To date, however, surprisingly little reliable evidence has been produced about the magnitude of this problem that could guide planners, policymakers, or community-based organizations. The study described in this article attempts to fill this void by examining residential mobility among disadvantaged house- holds in New York City during the ������������s. We found that rather than rapid displacement, gentrification was associ- ated with slower residential turnover among these households. In New York City, during the ������������s at least, normal succession appears to be responsible for changes in gentrifying neighborhoods. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of these findings for planning. Lance Freeman is an assistant professor in the Urban Planning Department of the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University. His research interests are housing policy, neighborhood change, the social consequences of sprawl, and urban poverty. He is the author of several articles on these subjects. Frank Braconi is the executive director of New York City���s Citizen Housing and Planning Council. Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. ������, No. ���, Winter ������������. �� American Planning Association, Chicago, IL. Gentrification and Displacement New York City in the 1990s Lance Freeman and Frank Braconi
some cases, however, opponents have sought to block community improvement projects through political pres- sure or legal challenge (Lin, ������������ Robinson, ������������). The degree to which government policies should actively promote gentrification in order to achieve fiscal and societal goals is a policy calculation that should con- sider adverse consequences such as displacement. Conse- quently, it is imperative that social scientists and policy analysts provide better quantitative evidence of the extent and implications of displacement and of the effectiveness of strategies intended to mitigate it. Background and Prior Research on Displacement Scholars have been drawn to the phenomenon of gentrification since it first emerged during the ������������s as a major force shaping the fate of urban neighborhoods. They first sought to document whether inner-city revitalization was actually occurring and if so, to what extent (Baldassare, ������������ Clay, ������������ James, ������������ Lipton, ������������ National Urban Coalition, ������������ Sumka, ������������). The studies were consistent in showing that although gentrification was a small part of the overall scheme of metropolitan shifts, it was indeed a reality in many older central-city communi- ties during the ������������s. With gentrification���s existence docu- mented, theorists debated about its origins and its conse- quences for cities. What emerged from this debate was recognition of the importance of several factors as precon- ditions for gentrification, including changing demograph- ics and lifestyle preferences, professionals clustering in cities to provide services for the gentrifiers, and a history of disinvestment that created ripe opportunities for reinvest- ment in certain neighborhoods (Beauregard, ������������ Ham- nett, ������������ Ley, ������������ Rose, ������������ Smith, ������������). Although it did not signal the demise of gentrification, as some observers claimed, the recession of the late ������������s and early ������������s did reverse or at least slow the process in many cities (Lees & Bondi, ������������ Smith & Defilippis, ������������). The economic boom of the ������������s, however, erased any lingering doubts that gentrification would be a long- lasting phenomenon. The boom, coupled with shifts in the housing finance industry that were favorable to low-in- come neighborhoods and reinvestment in federal low- income housing through the HOPE VI program, created conditions that expanded the process of gentrification in many cities (Wyly & Hammel, ������������). To be sure, gentrifi- cation still affected only a small share of all U.S. neighbor- hoods (Kasarda et al., ������������), but this share was prominent enough to reawaken old fears about displacement. In response, community-oriented organizations set up Web sites to dampen its impacts on the poor (PolicyLink, ������������), and even popular magazines addressed the displacement perils of gentrification, referring to it is as ���hood snatch- ing��� (Montgomery, ������������, pp. ���������������). Thus, in spite of all the promise for central-city rebirth associated with gentrifi- cation, for many, the assumption that it causes widespread displacement makes it a dirty word. Prior Research and Its Limitations Given the fears of displacement that have long been associated with gentrification, it is not surprising that scholars have attempted to define and measure this rela- tionship. Researchers have generally used two approaches to assess the degree of displacement resulting from gentri- fication: (���) studies of succession that examine how the socioeconomic characteristics of in-movers differ from those of out-movers and (���) surveys that ask residents why they moved from their former residence. Succession Studies. Succession studies examine whether individuals moving into a housing unit are of higher socioeconomic status than those moving out, as would be expected if gentrification were occurring. By focusing on specific locales, one can get a sense of the extent to which gentrification is occurring. Using this approach in a study of nine Midwestern cities, Henig (������������) found that the majority of the neighborhoods lost professional households, and those that experienced a net increase did not experience a concomitant decrease in blue- collar/service workers, households headed by females, or the elderly. Henig concluded that although displacement may be a problem in certain neighborhoods, it was proba- bly not as widespread as the popular wisdom of the time perceived it to be. Spain et al. (������������) performed a similar analysis using American Housing Survey data for ���������������������������. If gentrifica- tion is associated with the socioeconomic and demographic transformation of neighborhoods, then middle-income households, who are often White, should increasingly occupy the units vacated by lower-income households, who are often Black. The results of their analysis were consistent with an increase in gentrification during the decade. Because Spain and her colleagues did not stratify their analysis at a finer geographic level than central city/ suburb, however, it is impossible to know if the White-to- Black or poor-to-middle-income successions were concen- ������ Journal of the American Planning Association, Winter ������������, Vol. ������, No. ���