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Report Discusses Neighborhood Change, Gentrification in Cities.

In a new joint publication by The Brookings Institution Center on Urban and Metropolitan Policy and PolicyLink, authors Maureen Kennedy and Paul Leonard recommend "equitable development" as the means to create and maintain economic and social diversity in gentrifying communities.

There is much debate as to the value of a gentrified neighborhood, where higher income households displace lower income residents, often changing the character and flavor of the neighborhood.

For the most part the disagreement ensues because stakeholders view results of a gentrified neighborhood with different lenses.

The authors of Dealing With Neighborhood Change; A Primer of Gentrification and Policy Choices did not attempt to classify results as "good" or "bad." Rather, Kennedy and Leonard list the products of gentrified neighborhoods and discuss the consequences of each.

Kennedy and Leonard found that the following circumstances occur in gentrified neighborhoods:

* Renters, homeowners and local businesses are either involuntarily or voluntarily displaced;

* Real estate values and equity for homeowners increase as does rent for renters and business owners;

* Tax revenues increase;

* There is a greater income mix and a de-concentration of poverty;

* The street "flavor" changes, and new commercial activity is introduced;

* Community leadership, the power structure and institutions change;

* Conflicts arise between old and new residents; and

* The value of the neighborhood to those on the outside increases.

Kennedy and Leonard provide a list of steps that can strengthen a community and lesson the burden of gentrification on economically disadvantaged citizens. First, the authors suggest that city officials look at the demographics of their city to determine whether gentrification is an issue that needs to be addressed. Second, if gentrification is probable, city officials can combat future problems by increasing community understanding and conducting analyses that anticipate pressures.

Creation of neighborhood organizations, the authors note, can be an important factor in combating the negative effects of gentrifying neighborhoods. With the assistance of these groups, city officials should adopt a plan for economic and housing needs, opportunities for residents at the city level, and neighborhood stability and viability.

Reviewing development policies and programs is also important to communities in transition.

The authors suggest public policy interventions that address the negative outcomes of a gentrifying neighborhood while at the same time not stymieing the fast-growing economy. Additionally, the authors propose that public assets such as aging public facilities can be transformed to serve as affordable housing options in a revitalizing community.

To accommodate economically disadvantaged citizens in a revitalizing community, Kennedy and Leonard recommend home-buying workshops, which advise residents of their legal rights in addition to buying and selling techniques. Thus, residents, if they chose to leave their homes, are knowledgeable of the value of their assets.

Finally, the authors suggest that neighborhood groups prepare to negotiate with city officials and developers so that revitalization can benefit all. As the neighborhood changes as a result of revitalization, community leaders should be prepared to organize forums to unify the gentrifying community.

Details: Dealing With Neighborhood Change: A Primer on Gentrification and Policy Choices is available on the Brookings web site,, or can be obtained by calling the Urban Center at (202) 797-6139.
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Title Annotation:Brookings Institution, PolicyLink report
Author:Von Ins, Tracy C.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 9, 2001
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