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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 2:11 PM
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New Studies Say Gentrification Doesn’t Really Force Out Low-Income Residents

New Studies Say Gentrification Doesn’t Really Force Out Low-Income Residents


AUG. 5, 2019

By Justin Davidson

Read More: http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/...residents.html

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.....

Gentrification’s status as a great urban evil, a ravager of lives and destroyer of communities, is based as much on faith as on fact. Most scholarly research on the topic compares snapshots of cities and neighborhoods at different times but loses track of what happens to the actual people who live there.

- Now, a pair of studies has used Census micro-data and Medicaid records to track specific residents of both gentrifying and non-gentrifying neighborhoods, where they live, where their children go to school, when they move, and where they go. The researchers come up with some startling findings. — In a paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, Quentin Brummet and Davin Reed say that urbanites move all the time, for countless reasons, and that gentrification has scant impact on that constant flow. Those who stay put as a neighborhood grows more affluent often see their quality of life rise and their children enjoy more opportunities. Those who leave rarely do worse.

- In a separate study at NYU by Kacie Dragan, Ingrid Ellen, and Sherry A. Glied, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the researchers used Medicaid records to track thousands of children from address to address, between 2009 to 2015, a period of boiling gentrification. They found that schoolkids who lived in neighborhoods that saw an influx of college graduates didn’t move away more often than their peers in less fluid areas. Taken together, the papers suggest that gentrification’s upsides for longtime residents not only exist but go a long way toward mitigating the pain it causes.

- Citing previous research, Brummet and Reed say that “exposure to higher-income neighborhoods has important benefits for low-income residents, such as improving the mental and physical health of adults and increasing the long-term educational attainment and earning of children,” Brummet and Reed assert. — The studies make it clear that the simple narratives of gentrification’s evil don’t hold up. A neighborhood is not a filled and stoppered bathtub, where for every drop that flows in, another must slosh out. It’s more like a wet sponge, with residents draining away and evaporating all the time, newcomers passing through or settling in, finding whatever crannies seem hospitable at any given time.

- The Philadelphia Fed paper concludes explicitly that changes in a neighborhood’s demographics are driven far more by who moves in than who moves out. Shifting the emphasis away from displacement matters because it suggests that efforts to protect a neighborhood’s character are largely beside the point. Those who live there will move or stay, get used to the newcomers or not. They are not being evicted en masse, and they cannot be sheltered as a group. More people leave New York for the suburbs or other states than arrive from other places around the country, and that’s almost always been the case.

- Today, the city’s population is growing (slowly) partly because of the influx of recent college grads, but mostly because of births and arrivals from abroad. If you feel that the city is crowded enough, thank you very much, and can’t absorb another new New Yorker, then your problem is with immigrants and babies born within the five boroughs, not with an avalanche of tech bros. The flow of population in and out gives New York much of its strength and some of its problems; sometimes the two are indistinguishable. A dysfunctional school system pushes many families to the suburbs; if it got stellar overnight, the city would become unmanageably clogged just as quickly.

- Different prongs of the anti-gentrification movement offer mutually exclusive solutions. One extreme urges the construction of affordable housing: build it dense, soon, and everywhere. Any objection is inhumane. To fuss over open space, historical fabric, or the need for sun on parks is to care about the wrong things and the wrong people. The counter-faction sees new construction as the cause of displacement rather than the cure. “Affordability” is just a word to sugarcoat a developer boondoggle. The first group would like to see New York grow ever more towers, the second wants all the building to stop and for affluent newcomers to just go away.

- In practice, most policies that combat gentrification protect the status quo. They encourage people to stay where they are and they slow the rate of demographic change. We have a constellation of good and worthy programs that protect vulnerable residents from being bullied or buffeted and allow them to stay in their homes if that’s what they want. The state’s newly reinforced rent regulations will be a boon to many. Broadening the base of jobs, shoring up a beleaguered transit system, caring for parks and public space, shedding car traffic on city streets these efforts can all mitigate against the economy’s persistent inequities.

- Policies specifically aimed at keeping communities intact can be counterproductive. In many subsidized new buildings, for example, the city sets aside half of all affordable apartments for applicants who already live in the neighborhood. That’s a troubling practice because trying to keep communities intact through quotas often winds up perpetuating segregation. A report by a Queens college sociologist Andrew Beveridge, which the city hoped to suppress and a judge recently made public, found that, thanks to such set-asides, affordable-housing lotteries in predominantly white neighborhoods exclude African-Americans.

- Government should be making it easier, not harder, for people to change addresses if and when they want to. As newcomers roll in, with or without college educations, nobody has the right to tell them they shouldn’t or can’t. In the short term, gentrification makes neighborhoods more, not less, economically diverse and more racially integrated. The problem is that over time, those advantages dissipate, though not uniformly, and temporarily mixed neighborhoods become homogeneous again, and each new population in turn defends the turf it colonized. Diversity, not preservation, should be the goal. Instead of expending vast amounts of energy trying to shield fragile communities from change, we should make sure they reap its benefits.

.....



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  #2  
Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 3:20 PM
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Not a surprise at all. The anti gentrification movement was always more about Marxist mobilization and stirring up racial enmities, then anything to do with improving the lot of the poor
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 5:22 PM
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This mentions nothing about low-income renters being displaced; it only makes general statements like "low-income kids benefit when high-income people move into their neighborhood."
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 8:41 PM
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Here in Houston, low income home owners are priced out by not being able to afford astronomical property tax and renters by affordable housing replaced by high end apartments.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 8:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JManc View Post
Here in Houston, low income home owners are priced out by not being able to afford astronomical property tax and renters by affordable housing replaced by high end apartments.
That’s nice.

Gentrification is the process by which neighborhoods that are not nice become nice. Usually first involving the arrival of decent coffee and maybe cocktails, then decent food, which is the optimal stage in the process.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 8:47 PM
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Originally Posted by 10023 View Post
That’s nice.

Gentrification is the process by which neighborhoods that are not nice become nice. Usually first involving the arrival of decent coffee and maybe cocktails, then decent food, which is the optimal stage in the process.
I'm not talking ghetto but solid working class areas stumbled upon by yuppies and the man bun crowd.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 8:47 PM
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This is the silliest debate in urban forums. Gentrification is what cities need to be vibrant and functional. No one wants to live in a ghetto.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 8:54 PM
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Gentrification can also displace a neighbourhood's unique character with its mom & pop and novelty shops and replace it with meaningless chain stores that you can see anywhere.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 9:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JManc View Post
I'm not talking ghetto but solid working class areas stumbled upon by yuppies and the man bun crowd.
Solid working class areas still have generally poor quality coffee.
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 9:13 PM
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Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
Gentrification can also displace a neighbourhood's unique character with its mom & pop and novelty shops and replace it with meaningless chain stores that you can see anywhere.
Now here is an interesting topic of conversation.

This obviously totally depends on the nature of the gentrifiers and the market that you’re in. I’m sure there are places where beloved local delis get replaced by Subway and Quiznos, but I’d expect that happens less and less, and certainly not in the archetypal hotbeds of gentrification. In fact I’d expect these days it’s more likely to be the opposite, with chain restaurants and stores being replaced with (more expensive) foodie restaurants and boutiques. Sure there’s an end stage where the bank branches move in (but then lack of banking services is often brought up as a problem in poor neighborhoods).
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Old Posted Aug 10, 2019, 9:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 10023 View Post
Solid working class areas still have generally poor quality coffee.
That's debatable. People think expensive or gourmet means quality. It's a ploy to separate gullible yuppies from their money.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 12:27 AM
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I'll add a couple of points.

In respect of low-income renters, this depends entirely on whether rent-control exists in a given community, and its effectiveness.

Toronto (Ontario) has fairly meaningful rent control, such that the majority of tenants cannot be easily displaced or face a rent hike much above inflation.

We can debate the merits of such a policy elsewhere, my point here is merely that this largely precludes tenants being forced out by way of higher rents. Though new/vacated units may see much higher rents, changing the mix of tenants over time.

In respect of owners of property, assuming taxes rise in relation to rising property value there is likely a material pay off for selling out and relocating. If someone owns 50% of a property (50% by the bank as the mortgage is paid off) and it rises from 200k in value to 400k due to gentrification; and the owner sells; they experience a windfall that erases their mortgage debt and leaves them with 200k in cash. I don't see this group qualifying for too much sympathy.

A further point would be that gentrification is a relative state, and cyclical. Every neighbourhood cannot be the hot neighbourhood. Which means as one area rises, another falls, even if it gets no worse in condition, it becomes relatively less appealing, and its price point should moderate. Of course this may be less true in the hottest real estate markets, but this would be the normative state.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 3:18 AM
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If gentrification doesn't exist, why can't I afford to live in New York or San Francisco?

I guess what's being measured by this study is displacement of existing residents? That this study found no link between gentrification and displacement must be explained somehow since it is impossible for someone whose total income from all sources is $2,000 a month to pay $2,100 a month in rent.

Is it because gentrification in fact occurs more slowly than the natural turnover of renters? Also if this research is done in cities that typically have things like rent control and public housing, it means that the kind of people most susceptible to being displaced aren't. Also because they are looking at East Coast cities at concentrated low income ghettos its not a surprise that when low income people do move out, they end up better off, because anywhere is better than some housing project in the Bronx.

However, what about the working or lower middle class, which is distinct from the indigent minority class? The people not protected by a myriad of various public programs that keep them in subsidized or rent controlled housing. My beef with gentrification isn't so much neighborhood change. It's the fact that entire metro areas have become essentially off limits to people making the median household income now. Yes, technically a household making 40k a year could live in the Bay Area, but it's a rotten existence for a family with kids to live in a one bedroom apartment in an San Leandro dingbat while saving $0 a month. Yet these metro areas are hoarding jobs and wealth extracted from the rest of the country. The author says some negative things about people who want to YIMBY their way out of affordability, too. It seems like what the author wants to do is defend a status quo - the one where it is a bureaucratic pain in the ass to build anything, but where money still gets its way so things for the rich are built after a lot of pointless politicking. This would be the favored scenario for some elitist, no surprise right?

Last edited by llamaorama; Aug 11, 2019 at 3:30 AM.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 4:19 AM
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Depends on the city.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 5:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JManc View Post
That's debatable. People think expensive or gourmet means quality. It's a ploy to separate gullible yuppies from their money.
Expensive doesn’t necessarily mean quality, but quality is generally expensive. It’s just that the latter is much rarer. In this example, you’re not getting decent coffee for $2, but then on the other hand Starbucks is expensive but crap coffee.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 5:26 AM
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
If gentrification doesn't exist, why can't I afford to live in New York or San Francisco?
Because these are highly desirable cities and therefore expensive due to supply/demand dynamics.

Why does this need to be labelled “gentrification” and why do you think that anyone has an inherent right to live in the nicest parts of the most desirable cities in the country?
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 1:39 PM
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Originally Posted by llamaorama View Post
If gentrification doesn't exist, why can't I afford to live in New York or San Francisco?
You can, you're just not willing to change your lifestyle to live like New Yorkers or San Franciscans. That's what people are saying when they say "I can't afford to live in Metro X".

And no one is saying that "gentrification doesn't exist", it's that existing residents aren't displaced, because A. People want to stay in improving neighborhoods, while they tend to flee declining neighborhoods; and B. Most areas experiencing extreme gentrification have rent regulation and/or large amounts of subsidized housing.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 2:39 PM
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Not a surprise at all. The anti gentrification movement was always more about Marxist mobilization and stirring up racial enmities, then anything to do with improving the lot of the poor


Every generation sees it as a “rite of passage” now to have its activists. Youngsters today are jealous of the people who marched in the 1960s. They wish there were real issues to march about, so that they could wear all of the cool clothes and bear the trappings of the oppressed. But they are mostly just entitled brats so they just invent issues to march and protest about.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 2:44 PM
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Because these are highly desirable cities and therefore expensive due to supply/demand dynamics.

Why does this need to be labelled “gentrification” and why do you think that anyone has an inherent right to live in the nicest parts of the most desirable cities in the country?
You are proving his point that gentrification exists by saying this.

Gentrification is real. And I don’t see anything wrong with it. We are either going to live in a market economy where money buys you better things, or we’re not.

Chicago is going through this exact process, and we either allow wealthier classes to bring investment to “up and coming” parts of the city or we let some of America’s most beautiful urban housing stock deteriorate.
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Old Posted Aug 11, 2019, 3:50 PM
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Gentrification is just the observation that a cycle of depreciation and investment exists. Buildings are allowed to wear out and eventually are reinvested in to bring them back up to spec. The issue in many American cities is that entire core areas were built rapidly then abandoned by the middle class as soon as they showed signs of wear. These areas have never been really reinvested and are now home to extreme concentration of poverty and segregation.

Those opposing "Gentrification" are basically saying "let's never fix these buildings that haven't been update in 100 years... And btw we prefer extreme racial segregation and extreme concentration of poverty."

Quote:
Originally Posted by M II A II R II K View Post
Gentrification can also displace a neighbourhood's unique character with its mom & pop and novelty shops and replace it with meaningless chain stores that you can see anywhere.
In Chicago the only thing Gentrification is replacing is vacant storefronts with trendy mom and pop boutiques. When you get wayyyyy down the road here you might see a chain or two pop up, but by then they are replacing hipster mom and pops, not "the good old neighborhood".
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