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?

Stop Talking About Displacement

A well informed community organizing effort with a targeted purpose should be the first line of defense in protecting opportunities for wealth building and access to opportunities for upward mobility in working class communities as they experience inevitable changes.

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...
HUD Secretary Julian Castro poses in a formal headshot in front of an American flag.

Interview with HUD Secretary Julian Castro

Shelterforce got a chance to speak with Secretary Julian 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.

Author Roundtable

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

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 . . .

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...
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.

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.
The cover of Managing Neighborhood Change by Alan Mallach.

Managing Neighborhood Change

This report presents a strategic framework that can help practitioners and policymakers foster sustainable and equitable neighborhood revitalization, building on solid market demand while ensuring that the neighborhood’s lower-income households will benefit from the changes that have taken place.
demolished building

Is “Sustainability” Old Hat?

Americans have treated the word “sustainability” as though everyone practices sustainability daily and the concept is old hat. We should know better.

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...
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.

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.

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

Even where gentrification is only a distant threat (or hope, depending on your perspective) it looms large in any discussion of neighborhood change.

Building Communities From the Inside Out

In distressed communities across the United States, savvy organizers and leaders are rediscovering ancient wisdom about what builds strong communities, and then developing new...
speech conversation balloons

Starting Conversations with Public Art

An arts collaboration comes up with a creative spark to facilitate discussions about neighborhood change.

Another Day in the Lower Ninth Ward

Sweat pours down Reginald “Trigger” Smith’s face as he cleans out a storage unit squeezed next to three FEMA trailers on his lot in...

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.
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?
farm stand in lot.

(The Urgent Case for) Middle Neighborhoods, One of the Most Overlooked Assets in America

Middle neighborhoods are places where home prices are generally affordable to the average household. But, these neighborhoods are often on the edge between growth and decline.

Small is Beautiful – Again

The shrinking cities movement imagines revitalization without growth - and housing advocates take a hard look at what that means for the poor.

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...

The Best Thing I Didn’t Hear All Week

I'm in Lexington, Ky., this week for the National Community Land Trust Network conference, hosted by the Lexington Community Land Trust. The Lexington CLT had...
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.
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.

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...
porch party

Sitting on a Porch Can Be Good for Your Health

To help combat isolation and reweave the connecting fabric that had been lost, a neighborhood arts center launches an initiative that eventually became a movement.

In New Jersey’s Hub City, A Push to Change Government Gets Big Government Resistance

In the 1970s, New Brunswick, NJ was struggling. Like other New Jersey cities experiencing the hangover of race riots of the 1960s, the schools...

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...
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.

Home Again

With the help of its local community development corporation, a Boston neighborhood comes to terms with its transformation as a beloved church, long a treasured part of the community is reborn as housing.

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...

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....
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...
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?

‘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...

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...
Residents of four historically African-American neighborhoods hold up a sign that reads "This Land is Our Land! #TentCityATL"

The Right to Stay Put

There is much work to be done around housing and equitable development, but the solution is not simply to move people around. A key challenge is creating real choice.

Modern Community Development for a Modern Crisis

A story about a nonprofit organization that achieved a large-scale bulk purchase of mortgages. The properties, all vacant and abandoned, and many deteriorated, are located primarily in the New Jersey municipalities of Newark, Orange, East Orange, and Irvington.

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.”...
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.

Fighting Foreclosure On All Fronts

While national coverage has subsided, a handful of immigrant families in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood are still fighting to stay in their foreclosed apartment building, and their story is simply part of a larger struggle in the country's third-largest city.

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...
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.
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.

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...

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...

Public Land Should be Used for Public Good

When a vacant lot in Oakland was close to becoming the home of a 24-story, market-rate development, local activists worked together to prevent it from happening.

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...

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...
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.

Education Reform Backlash?

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

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?

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...

Who Is It For?

A Washington, D.C. nonprofit undertakes a redevelopment project and tackles the issue of cultural displacement.
A once-vacant lot in Philadelphia that has been cleaned.

Greening Vacant Lots: Low Cost, Big Effect in Philly

A Philadelphia program is cleaning up abandoned lots, helping formerly incarcerated residents get jobs, and improving the overall health and well-being of neighborhoods.

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...

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...
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.

New Territory

How two CDCs added school reform to their agendas.

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...

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...
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.
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?

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...

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...

How to Fund Land Banks

The number of land banks grew dramatically in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. So has our understanding of how to successfully fund them.

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...

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...
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.”

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...

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...

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....
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

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.
An image that says "Stop Gentrification in Pilsen."

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

Studies say that gentrification could be a good thing for low-income residents, but people suffer when they can't afford to stay in their neighborhood. So what's up with these studies?

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.

How to Fight Vacancy? Do It All

The fight against vacancy in Youngstown, Ohio, shows us that we shouldn’t rely on a single strategy—everything is needed at once.

“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”...

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,...
"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.

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.

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...
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...

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...
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.

The Two Vacancy Crises in America’s Cities

Vacant properties are a serious problem in two kinds of neighborhoods. To address them, we need to know which kind we’re looking at.

Interpreting Segregation

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

The Gentrification Vaccine

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

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.

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...

Seattle Neighborhood Planning

At first glance, the Neighborhood Planning Program in Seattle, Washington, sounds like a remarkably progressive idea. Begun in 1995, the program is one of...
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.
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 . . .

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...

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?

Making a Pipeline for Vacant Building Rehab

Baltimore’s Vacants to Value program sparked revitalization block by block with a few key legal powers and partnerships.

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...