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...

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 . . .

Author Roundtable

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

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...

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.

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...

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...
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.
Boston residents participants marched to a nearby national gathering of YIMBYs with a sign that reads "Displacement is the Crisis ... We Are The Answer."

What We Don’t Know About Development and Displacement

The data on the relationship between new development, affordability, and displacement is not nearly as clear-cut as advocates (of all persuasions) often imply.

Forget NSP, Tax Credits Will Save Neighborhoods

If we want to revitalize neighborhoods, we must recognize that it’s a multiyear project. It should be an income tax credit program for three reasons:

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...
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.

In Mississippi, the New Urbanists Take Charge

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, but it actually hit the Gulf Coast of Mississippi much harder. Several towns were literally wiped off the map,...

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...

Who Is It For?

A Washington, D.C. nonprofit undertakes a redevelopment project and tackles the issue of cultural displacement.

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.

Will Columbia Take Manhattanville?

Balancing an Ivy League university's expansion plan with a Harlem neighborhood's needs is a tricky business, especially when eminent domain is in the mix.

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...

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...
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.
The F Market line is one of several light rail lines in San Francisco that uses historic equipment.

Who Most Needs Access to Core Neighborhoods?

We have a limited number of dense core neighborhoods where getting around without a car and without a lengthy daily commute are possible.

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.

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...

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....
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.

Golf Course Wars in Benton Harbor

Golf courses have been lightning rods and symbols for class struggle around the world, as in Morelos, Mexico, where a golf course sucking up...
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?

Gentrification Was the Killer in Oakland Fire

It’s usually hard to distinguish a victim of gentrification. Many people have a story of getting priced out of their neighborhoods, of being looked...
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.

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.
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.

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,...
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.
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.

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...
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.

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...

The Millennials 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 central cities, and how places...

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.

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.

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 Gentrification Vaccine

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

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...
A round blue and orange sign on an urban street corner with a train on it reads "Welcome to the Ironbound"

Tales of Three Cities

The poster child for gentrification in the eastern U.S. is Hoboken, NJ. A 15-minute subway ride from midtown Manhattan, for decades it was a...
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

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...

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...

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.

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.

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.

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...
“La Crucifixion de Don Pedro,” the oldest Puerto Rican mural in Humboldt Park.

Conflict and Placemaking in Humboldt Park: Paseo Boricua

The area surrounding Paseo Boricua is not exclusive space, but in a gentrifying part of the city, it is undeniably—and perhaps unavoidably—contested space. 
"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.
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.

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.

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...
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...

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.

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...
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.

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...

Conflict and Placemaking in Humboldt Park: La Crucifixion

It took 10 years, but a local Chicago activist managed to save a mural that portrays Pedro Albizu Campos, the leader of the movement for Puerto Rican independence.
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...

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?

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...

Defensible Space

In the Five Oaks community of Dayton, Ohio, during 1991, violent crimes increased by 77 percent, robberies by 77 percent, vandalism by 38 percent,...
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.

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...

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...

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.

New Territory

How two CDCs added school reform to their agendas.

Education Reform Backlash?

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

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...
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
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?

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...

The Soul of the Neighborhood

Why do we call community-based development an "industry" rather than a "movement" these days? "Industry" is such a satisfyingly hard-nosed word. It says, 'we...
Kennetha Patterson of Homes for All in Nashville speaks on a megaphone during Renter’s Week of Action.

Tenant Power: Organizing for Rent Strikes and Landlord Negotiations

In the face of high rent increases and substandard housing, many tenants are realizing they are not alone in their landlord troubles and are joining together to push for building-level wins, and policy change.

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...

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.

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 […]

Transforming Vacant Land Into Community Assets

Vacant land activities can be low cost and high impact; the price of failure is not steep, but the return on investment can be high.

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...

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...

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...
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.

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.

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...

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...
westlake mural

Shelter Shorts, The Week in Community Development—Aug. 24

Philly's Fight for Affordable Housing | HUD Targets Facebook In Complaint| An Eviction App | A "Massive" Multifamily Housing Fraud

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...