Neighborhood Change

As community demographics shift and there’s neighborhood change, what are the issues affecting longstanding and new residents alike? When is change desirable, and when is it undesirable, and how can it be turned to the benefit of those who need it most?

Chicago resident Tom Gordon speaks to a crowd. He, as well as other organizers, are fighting for a citywide community benefits campaign.

Chicago Activist Convention Shifts Focus to Community Benefits Campaign

Standing on a truck in front of a group of several hundred protesters, Tom Gordon expressed a feeling shared often at the ONE Northside...
Some of the Seattle's historic and longstanding neighborhoods, like Chinatown/International District with high proportions of color are seeing displacement of residents.

Seattle Takes Ownership of Its Displacement Challenge

Seattle is tackling displacement by aiming to reduce the systemic and structural barriers in connecting marginalized populations to opportunity.
A man and a woman stand in front of a chalkboard sign that reads "This House Could Be ..."The man is writing on the board, as many others have done. Some of the suggestions for what the house could be include a community gathering space and a senior center.

Rebellion Spurs Opportunity and a New Housing Movement

How a Baltimore collaborative plans to make shared-equity housing a significant sector in the local housing market.
An African-American man and woman stand happily outside on their front porch. The woman is wearing a red coat and a black and white hate, while the man is reader a read Oakland A's hat and a black jacket.

Getting Ahead of Gentrification in the South Side of Columbus

More than a decade after several groups came together to improve substandard housing in the South Side of Columbus, signs of gentrification and forced displacement are beginning to emerge. Can something be done so current residents can afford to stay in their neighborhoods for years to come? The short answer is yes.
homeless camp under bridge

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, May 4

A Trauma-Centered Approach to Youth Violence in Cleveland | We May Know Who Benefits From Port Covington | What Housing Crisis? | Clearing Homeless Encampments in Philadelphia | Restaurant Tax for Affordable Housing
Black Panther newsletter from 1969

What Black Panther-inspired Gift to Oakland Should Have Looked Like

Disney's Black Panther-inspired gift to Oakland children is great, but there is a way it could be better.
Barcelona apartment buildings

Shelter Shorts—The Week in Community Development, April 20

NIMBYs, YIMBYs, PHIMBYs-Oh My! | Can Algorithms Make Equitable Cities? | Retail Segregation Takes a Toll | E.R. Visits and "Tough" Neighborhoods | Enough Innovation Already | More...
store closing

The Displacement Crisis of Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses

Growth of new business is a sign of a robust economy, but New York City’s true success hinges on ensuring that all residents have access to opportunity and community resources.
Mabel Duffy, Myrtle Stern, and the May Day marching band occupy a major intersection in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Game of Chance: Mass Eviction in Pittsburgh

In Pittsburgh, hundreds of Penn Plaza residents were given 90-day eviction notices after their building was slated for demolition. The mass eviction was well known throughout Pittsburgh, but few knew what was happening inside the building.
An abandoned home in Cleveland.

Myths and Misconceptions About Demolition in Cleveland

Demolition can generate emotional reactions, especially in places with a history of urban renewal. But critics of demolishing any vacant homes are ignoring the evidence.
Man with a cane stands at the top of set of stairs in a park .

Poem: “Gentrification”

I have seen a neighborhood eat itself for dinner
Black and white photo of a row of police cars.

The Problem with “We Have to Do Something”

This summer, Eve Ewing, a sociologist of race and education at the University of Chicago, wrote an article called “The Chicago Negro and the...
"Coming Soon, Very Sad" painted on border wall outside of new development.

We Are All NIMBYs…Sometimes

If we built enough housing, we would still need subsidized housing for many people, but market prices would be low enough that most people could afford them. But we’ve chosen not to. And the reason we give for that choice, more than any other, is that we are trying to preserve or improve the character of our communities.
Atlanta's BeltLine bike path bordered by new homes.

Sustainable for Whom? Large-Scale Sustainable Urban Development Projects and “Environmental Gentrification”

Absent a fundamentally new approach to redevelopment planning that places housing affordability at the center of the process, large-scale sustainable development projects are likely to become engines of what has been termed “environmental gentrification.”
A sprawling white “hipster” is memorialized against a backdrop of romanticized visions of blight in a mural that dominates an intersection in the historically Black 7th Ward in New Orleans.

The Cultural Ramifications of Gentrification in New Orleans

Gentrification is not just physical displacement; it’s cultural appropriation across entire neighborhoods. Artists have an obligation not to participate.
Front porch with three chairs.

Taking Back the Front Porch: Using Art to Reclaim Community Identity

The front porch is a space in-between our private family space and our more public spaces where we create our own definition of “community.” In many parts of Chicago, this space is often a battleground.
Mural on wall with faces of girls looking into the distance.

Art in the Face of Gentrification

Four representatives of New York City organizations discuss their employment of art and artists to empower residents in the face of gentrification.
Cover image of Race, Class, and Politics in The Cappuccino City.

A D.C. Neighborhood’s Transformation From “Chocolate” to “Cappuccino”

To longtime residents of D.C., the findings presented in Derek Hyra’s Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City—that gentrifying neighborhoods’ racial and economic diversity does not translate into integration—is likely not surprising.
Yellow sign reading 'Aloha.'

Reflecting and Planning Using a Community Wealth Building Lens

Over an organization’s 25 years in existence, how do staff and volunteers measure impact and build off of lessons learned to guide their next steps forward?

20 Years Later, What HOPE VI Can Teach Us

Affordable housing programs are at great risk of elimination under the current administration. In this uncertain climate, what can we learn from a program that leveraged private interest while aspiring to be a protector of affordable housing?
Residents of four historically African-American neighborhoods hold up a sign that reads "This Land is Our Land! #TentCityATL"

A Community Benefits Proposal Is Ignored. Is Displacement Far Behind?

Residents of four historically African-American neighborhoods in Atlanta are in the midst of an occupation of Turner Field—the former home of the Atlanta Braves.

A Community Planning Process–Even A Good One–Is Not Enough

Just the inherent language of community “transformation” signals that what has come before is not worth holding on to, and renders the history of these public housing sites insignificant. Knowing this, our challenge is not to envision “transformed” communities, but an evolution that carries with it visible markers of what has come before and illuminates the history of the place and the people who have lived in these places for decades.

Myths and Realities About Cycles: Avoiding the Inevitability Trap

About a year ago I wrote a post about Paul Krugman and whether building luxury housing could mitigate the...

Why Can’t Harlem Stop Gentrification?

In his May New York Times editorial, “The End of Black Harlem,” Michael Henry Adams portrays the historic African-American...

Millennials, Revisited

As both Joe Cortright of the City Observatory and I have written, Millennials—people who have reached adulthood since the beginning of the millennium—and...

Stop Talking About Displacement

We’ve all heard the tale: long neglected places, usually in major cities, usually communities of color, are “discovered” in Christopher Columbus-like fashion and begin...
HUD Secretary Julian Castro poses in a formal headshot in front of an American flag.

Interview with HUD Secretary Julián Castro

Shelterforce got a chance to speak with Secretary Castro about some of the current ways in which he’s working to make HUD a force for good in people’s lives, and what steps there are left to be taken.
A classroom full of students in a charter school in St. Louis.

The Charter School Lenders

Despite the controversy surrounding them, charter schools have become a major segment of the CDFI field’s business, requiring new assessment tools to keep the lending mission-focused.

Why Are Community Development Lenders Financing Charter Schools?

The choice to support privately-operated, publicly-funded schools puts these lenders at odds with many of their usual political allies and constituencies. So what’s the motivation?

Above the Fray?

As the school reform debates rage on, community groups struggle to stay out of the politics and yet keep influencing the quality of education in their neighborhoods.
Two students wearing blue shirts stand in front of posters in their school.

Schools that Support Students’ Whole Lives

Community schools support kids, families, and neighborhoods in their mission to improve education.
A group of people stand behind a red ribbon before the opening of an art exhibit at a charter school. To the right, youngsters prepare to cut the ribbon with large scissors.

Charter Schools, Gentrification, and Weighted Lotteries

Charter schools in gentrifying neighborhoods have the power to exacerbate the inequity that exists between low-income residents and wealtheir newcomers. How can they use their power to instead ensure their student populations are as diverse as the neighborhoods they operate in?
A female dentist cleans a young boy's teeth.

The Place-Based Charter School?

What is the relationship between charter schools and neighborhoods—and what could it be?

Gentrification and Public Schools: It’s Complicated

An influx of more affluent families and their resources and advocacy is just what every struggling school needs, right? Well . . .

Data Systems for Social Change

Throughout Chinatown Community Development Center’s 39-year history in San Francisco, we have grown to encompass multiple strategies in our quest for comprehensive community development....

Gentrification and the “Slums of Beverly Hills”

In 1998, when Slums of Beverly Hills was released, I lived in West Los Angeles, relatively near (in LA...

Gentrification Is More Widespread Than We Think

In Miriam Axel-Lute’s recent post here, “Place Matters But Place Changes,” she references “a study done by Governing magazine...

Place Matters, But Place Changes

“Place matters, but place changes,” Univ. of Southern Calif. professor Manuel Pastor observed at the opening plenary at PolicyLink’s...

Engaging the Public Schools: Are You Ready?

Many community development organizations approach the issue of public education with trepidation. Too many public schools have been entrenched in mediocrity for too long....

Community Development and School Reform: Odd Bedfellows?

In my couple decades hanging around the community development field, I can’t count the number of times conversations about...

Interview with Richard Baron, CEO of McCormack Baron Salazar

It still surprises many people that Richard Baron, the CEO of one of the largest for-profit affordable housing developers, got his start in the field supporting public housing tenants in a rent strike.

Conflict and Placemaking in Humboldt Park: La Crucifixion

In my prior post on Paseo Boricua, I referred to an old mural in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood that...

It’s Not Actually About Ownership

Private Property and Public Power: Eminent Domain in Philadelphia, by Debbie Becher. Oxford University Press, 2014. 334pp. $30.50 (paper) Purchase here.

Conflict and Placemaking in Humboldt Park: Paseo Boricua

There is an exceptional amount of public art on Paseo Boricua, a four-block stretch of Division Street bisecting Humboldt...

The Gentrification Vaccine

Can a neighborhood be immune to gentrification? If so, can local governments and community organizations work together to build...

Do Developers Know They’ll Get Old, Too?

Mid-July marked the 20th anniversary of more than 700 Chicagoans dying in a heat wave. When the temperature peaked at 106 degrees on July...

Seattle Eyes Zoning’s Third Rail–Single Family Neighborhoods

My city of Albany, N.Y., is currently going through a rezoning process. Mostly this entails cleaning up a fragmented,...

Can D.C.’s Bridge Park Work for Everyone?

There is a decrepit old bridge extending from 11th Street in southeast Washington, D.C. and across the Anacostia River...

Can Calling Attention to Gentrification Make Things Worse?

In early march, when Austin was enduring the annual South-by-Southwest festival, Facebook user Briana Smith stunned the world by...

Community Development and Hot Markets

At the People and Places Conference earlier this month, we organized a mini-track around “Community Control and Hot Markets.”...

Interview with Mayor Ivy Taylor, San Antonio, Texas

When Julian Castro, then-mayor of San Antonio, Texas, was picked to be the new Secretary of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development last year, the city council voted in Ivy Taylor from among their ranks to replace him. The first African-American mayor of the largely Latino and Anglo city, and strongly identified as an urban planner, Taylor casts herself as someone interested more in getting work done than leaving a political legacy. However, she has not shied away from controversial positions, and her initial position that she would not be running for re-election fell by the wayside as she announced her candidacy on February 16, less than two weeks after this interview. We spoke with Mayor Taylor, who has a background in affordable housing, about what it’s like to move between the community development sphere and city government, some of her difficult decisions, and her vision for stable, mixed-income neighborhoods in the city she is serving.
One-pager reads Do Section 8 voucher holders increase crime in a neighborhood? No! Shows two graphs illustrating the point. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Do Section 8 voucher holders increase crime in a neighborhood?

A: No! This is a perennial fear, but research shows that additional voucher holders don't change the crime rate at all. However it does show that . . .

Public School Closures: Loss And Opportunity

In many people’s minds, a neighborhood is not complete without a public school, as they not only hold the key to the next generation’s success, but also represent an open and welcoming space for civic interaction. Practitioners, policymakers, and researchers alike have based their work on this vision. Local school districts and community partners have […]

Interview with George McCarthy, President of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

After 14 years at the Ford Foundation, most recently as the director of the Metropolitan Opportunities Unit, George "Mac" McCarthy became the fifth president of the 41-year-old Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, trading in his long daily commute to New York City and returning to Boston, where he grew up. McCarthy brings to the job that critical and nuanced eye for detail that comes with being an accomplished housing economist with the mission of bringing social justice to those denied it around the world. Well-known for his blunt and honest views and his ability to challenge as well as inspire those he works with, McCarthy has long seen land use policy as a means to reach the equity goals he's worked for in his roles as a teacher, researcher, and funder.

Still Learning, After All These Years

I had a great education and was fortunate enough to have scholarships to become the first in my family to obtain a Master’s degree. But I made a career choice in 1974 to forego a PhD for experiential learning. I didn’t know that at the time. For me it was a job then not just […]
One-pager showing differences between municipal land banks and community land trusts. Image links to pdf version.

Q: Is a land bank the same thing as a land trust?

A: Nope. They are totally different, though complementary tools. This chart will walk you through the differences.

Interview with Tony Pickett, Urban Land Conservancy

Probably no one in the country is in a better position than Tony Pickett to talk about efforts to include long-term affordable housing in two of the nation’s largest Transit Oriented Development (TOD) ventures: Denver’s FasTracks plan, and Atlanta’s Beltline project.

What Happens Once the Artists Arrive?

Conventional wisdom says that artists and gay people are tend to be pioneers in distressed neighborhoods, signs that change is...

7 Policies That Could Prevent Gentrification

The following are seven policy initiatives that could be part of a community stabilization agenda using smart growth and equitable investments to prevent or mitigate gentrification in Roxbury and other at-risk neighborhoods in Boston.

Is Gentrification Different When It’s Not in a Booming Metro?

Interesting research that adds a wrinkle to the gentrification conversation: Todd Swanstrom writes about “rebound” neighborhoods in St. Louis and...

Who Is a Gentrifier, and What Should They Do?

As people with choices move back into (some) urban areas that were abandoned/systematically disinvested from decades ago, gentrification is...

Land Banks Are Not a Silver Bullet

We were very excited to hear that after many years of organizing, Philadelphia succeeded in winning a municipal land...

The Millenials Are Marching…But is Anyone Else?

Last month I wrote about how well-educated members of the millennial generation are moving in large numbers to the...

NPR: “Gentrification May Be a Boon To Longtime Residents”

Displaced residents? What's that?That's the tone coming from and NPR story detailing new(ish) studies about the effects of gentrification. Further, the studies say that...

Finally! A Concrete Proposal to Address Gentrification-Driven Displacement

I, and others, have sometimes felt that the fair housing community can be too focused on opening up the...

If You Build It: A Story of Transformation Through Education

“If You Build It,” a new film directed by Patrick Creadon, explores what happens when teachers urge students to...

Can Banksy Make New York City Affordable Again?

Earlier this month Shelterforce posted a conversation about gentrification that posed many different questions about the term and its role in community...

Inside Gentrification: The Emotional, Physical, and Financial Implications

The following is a condensed conversation between practitioners and thinkers about gentrification sparked from a blog post about neighborhood revitalization on Rooflines. With so...

‘Gentrification’ is a Linguistic Weapon Hurting Us All

As the challenges of community development have evolved and become more complex especially over the last decade, the language used to frame and define...

Portland Gets Proactive on Gentrification

We've been talking about gentrification and displacement a bunch here on Rooflines recently. One of the perennial problems in dealing with...

What Is Gentrification, Anyway?

Say the word “gentrification” in a room of community development practicioners and you're likely to get a cacophony of responses.Alan Mallach sparked a debate...

An Urban School Reduces Violence . . . With Nonviolence

When students feel like they are in jail when at school and the adults around them consider them all potential...

It’s Not Either/Or: Neighborhood Improvement Can Prevent Gentrification

Alan Mallach’s blog post, “Hung Up on Gentrification? Don’t Be“ seems to have struck a familiar nerve.Certainly, gentrification is...

Hung Up on Gentrification? Don’t Be

In my last Rooflines post I described an approach—centering on a tax credit for families to buy substandard houses in targeted neighborhoods, fix them...

How CDCs (and TIFs) Might Help Create Equitable Public School Districts

As many parents know instinctively, and economists have shown, there’s a reason why the housing cost in many communities is...

The Value of a Visit: Community Schools Learn from Each Other

Oakland Unified School District is one of the few full-service community school districts in the country.  What does that mean?  Let’s start with a...

Forget NSP, Tax Credits Will Save Neighborhoods

In my last two posts, I tried first to explain why NSP hasn’t revitalized many neighborhoods and why Project Rebuild...

What Does It Mean for a Neighborhood to be Stable?

What should be the focus of a neighborhood stabilization program? It's an ongoing topic of conversation within community development...

The Tenacity of Dysfunction

The word resilience has different meanings in different fields. In the field of material science, it refers to the ability of a material to...

What Creating a ‘Stable Neighborhood’ Really Means

Last month I wrote about why Project Rebuild is basically a bad idea, and why the Obama administration is making...

3 Things for Nonprofits to Remember About Abandoned Properties

“'Do nothing' is not an option.”So says Jerry Flach, construction project director at Paterson Habitat for Humanity, of the need to take action on...

Education Reform Backlash?

Today in New York state, third through eighth graders are wrapping up their second week of increased testing under the...

Gentrification in Brooklyn the Result of Plans, Not Markets

Doug Henwood, editor/publisher of Left Business Observer, has an interesting piece in the Nation this week that argues that gentrification and displacement in New...

How We Connect: Bridging the Gap Between Neighborhoods Through Public Land

When I worked as a local newspaper reporter, it was frustrating to see community members with ideas of how to transform or beautify their...

The Heavy Hand of Demographic Change

Washington Ave St. Louis (credit: Google Earth)As I continue to wrestle with the future of cities and urban neighborhoods,...

New Territory

How two CDCs added school reform to their agendas.

Fighting Displacement Fights Crime

There's an utterly fascinating recent post by John Roman on the Metrotrends Blog of the Urban Institute called “Gentrification Will...

Is “Sustainability” Old Hat?

“Sustainability” has rapidly progressed from becoming an innovative topic to a piece of overused vocabulary. And yet, even reviewing a...

Marrying Rehab and Affordable Housing

Affordable housing developments should celebrate the 'old' as much as—or perhaps even more than—the 'new.'  Like most American cities,...

Cory Booker’s #Neighborhood

If there was some radio silence on Newark, NJ Mayor Cory Booker's Twitter feed on Tuesday, it was only because...

Author Roundtable

Shelterforce authors discuss the roles of place, mobility, and displacement on health and neighborhoods.

The Dangers of Being an “Armchair” Anything

The East Side Commercial Historic District is an enclave of historic structures representing a fascinating cross-section of Milwaukee’s eastern commercial development...

Interpreting Segregation

The Poverty & Race Research Action Council has received a number of inquiries on the widely publicized report from the...

“Detroitism”: What’s the Role for Community Developers?

Guernica, a self-described “magazine of art and politics,” has a fascinating essay by Wayne State University professor John Patrick Leary about the “ruin porn”...

Drexel to Follow in Penn’s Community-University Footsteps

The University of Pennsylvania is well-known as a leader in community-university partnerships, and especially the kind that actually try to build community wealth. Under...

Help Restore Post-Katrina NOLA Neighborhoods by Tearing Down the Freeway

As we reflect on the five years that have passed since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, we can observe both progress and much, much...

How Immigrants Are Revitalizing America’s Fading Suburbs

The Urbanophile, Aaron Renn, has an interesting new post about how American suburbs, particularly inner-ring suburbs, are being revitalized by immigrant populations. His...

Revitalizing Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine (Series Conclusion – Making It Green)

This is the final installment of my miniseries (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3) about Cincinnati’s remarkable Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, potentially a national model...

Revitalizing Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine (Part 3 – the Progress)

This was going to be the final installment of my miniseries about Cincinnati’s remarkable Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, but I’m on too much of a roll...

Revitalizing Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine (Part 2)

Last week I wrote the first installment of my miniseries about Cincinnati’s remarkable Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. As I wrote then, this distinct and historic...