Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Two Gentrification Stories to Read


Gentrification is always a hot button issue, but these are two recent pieces that I think are worth a read.

Gentrification May Actually Be Boon To Longtime Residents from NPR.

For Longtime Residents, Sometimes Gentrification Isn’t All Bad from Housing Complex.


educator said...

Its always fun to watch liberals discover basic economic principles.

Anonymous said...

or facts

Boomshiqua said...

Why consider facts when you can let raw misguided emotions guide you every step of the way!? People getting pushed out! People getting priced out!! Parking disappearing! The Plan(tm)!!! Ahhhhh

HillHound528 said...

This isn't a surprise but let's not get too giddy. There is an upside and a downside to everything. There are winners and losers in gentrification...the question is one of equity. As a planner, this is a balancing act that has to be addressed in every (PLAN) that I work on...sometimes it works out for the best but in many cases the very people that the Plan was supposed to help are forced out. It's a tough situation and a more nuanced discussion than can be gleaned from most articles or news reports.

Alan Page said...

Neither article presents the empirical data that establishes that gentrification is "good for" long term residents. My personal experience is the opposite. Literally everyone who lived on my block when I bought my house in 2003 is gone, with the exception of two households. I'm going to need to see the actual studies and read their methodology before I accept the premise that gentrification helps poorer residents stay in gentrifying neighborhoods. That takes "counter-intuitive" to a whole new universe.

Anonymous said...

well, you have to look at all the variable and choices involved. The two households on either side of me would probably be characterized as having been "forced out" or "victims of gentrification." However, what these folks did was sell the houses, take the very, very large sum of money they received, and, on the left side, buy three escalades for mom, dad, and the oldest daughter and move to a duplex in PG County. On the right side, it was an apartment in PG County, I think a Yukon or some such thing, 23 inch rims or whatever the hell size they were, and lots and lots of fancy clothes. So, oh wells.

Anonymous said...

yeah, i know what you mean. guy that lives on my street has an astroturf walkway to his front steps, but owns 2 cars. one of which is a new mercendes SUV

Alan Page said...
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Alan Page said...

anonymous @ 12:53

Did you read the articles linked above to which I responded? They quote a study (without providing a link to it) alleging that long-term residents in neighborhoods where wealthy new neighbors move in are *less likely* to move than in all-poor neighborhoods. That defies my entire personal experience of living in DC for over two decades. Again, without a link to the study, I'm not sure if the NPR piece is quoting it correctly or not. The WCP essentially parrots the NPR piece on that point.

Your point about homeowners cashing in is a separate issue.

Most of the people affected by gentrification are renters. The WCP piece seems to miss that the rent controlled properties they are referring to are generally multi-units, not the single family homes that comprise the majority of properties switching hands in most hot real estate markets (although converting apartment buildings to condos is another way of shrinking the amount of available affordable housing stock, e.g. speeding gentrification up).

Going to Murry's and interviewing one guy, quoting a study for which you can't provide a link and providing the link to a study that shows those occupying homes receive an underwhelming eight point increase in their credit scores is hardly a good way to support a theory that gentrification helps long term residents. What are they going to do with an eight point higher credit score, finance the purchase of a cookie? SMH.

Anonymous said...

there you go, renters. Poor people get to live in poor areas, be they black, white, brown, yellow, red, or any combination thereof. Twas ever thus and thus ever shall it be.

Anonymous said...

My favorite quote:

"...higher costs can push out renters, especially those who are elderly, disabled or without rent-stabilized apartments."

Its not realistic to maintain a ghetto and build "new" burnt out bldgs and crack houses. However we must take care of our own,

Anonymous said...

The study:

not-a-troll said...


I appreciate a lot of your commentary on this blog but I think you have missed the mark this time. You support your criticism of these pieces - that they are more anecdotal than empirical - with your own anecdotal experience. I've been in this neighborhood 10 years and almost all of my neighbors are the same. The biggest change by far has been the sale and now occupancy of the vacant homes nearby - something that I appreciate. So, like you, I'd appreciate some more cold, hard facts before I make any snap judgements or discredit the conclusions made by these articles.

Alan Page said...
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Alan Page said...

Not A Troll,

One, by no means was I saying that I think my anecdotal evidence is any better than the anecdotal evidence in the NPR piece. Two, I'm writing in a comment section (where I'm more informal than I am when I write an entry for the blog) and the other authors of the two pieces at issue are paid to write for heavily read media outlets (where formality and the rules of journalism are expectations reasonably held by their readers). Three, I'm not summarizing a study without providing the link to it.

On that note, I offer my heartfelt gratitude to Anonymous at 4:39 for providing the link to an abstract of the study, even though it looks like I have to pay to read the whole thing. I'll have to decide how much my curiousity is worth, re: this study. This sentence from the abstract seems to contradict the NPR summary of the study, though: "Demographic change in gentrifying neighborhoods appears to be a consequence of lower rates of intra neighborhood mobility and the relative affluence of in-movers." Well, yeah, intra-neighborhood mobility *is* going to be hampered when the rental rates and housing values in said neighborhood skyrocket (i.e. it becomes gentrified). This doesn't sound like gentrification having no effect on poorer residents in a community to me, though, which is how NPR seemed to characterize the findings of the study. Would have to pay to read the entire study to be sure, however.

John said...

I second what Not-a-Troll said. Most of my neighbors have been the same since I moved in, in spring 2006 and they all are happy about the changes along H Street. I realize this is anecdotal but worth sharing.

Alan, before purchasing the study, you may want to also refer to Dr. Freeman's resume, which contains a list of his other publications:

Robert Mann-Thompson said...

Again Frozen Topics drags out that old gray mare and beats her once again. Sigh, maybe racial stuff on this blog gets readership. Its getting to be like beating a one trick pony to death though. Demographic shift happens. It's as simple as that. Property owners can not be displaced, if you don't own then well, I can't help you, no one can. It's really that simple. No data, or loquacious bloviating needed. When the smoke clears and the mirrors break there will be a moasic of neighbor in a hodgepodge of neighborhoods enjoying life together.

Anonymous said...

Just enjoyed a great dinner at Union Market's Bidwell's. Following dinner I spoke with the owner and complimented him on the venue, meal and service and welcomed him to the neighborhood.

During the conversation I asked him how long was his lease, to ascertain his commitment to the neighborhood. The owner replied, "That's personal, like asking how much I make." I did not think so; but given his uncomfortableness, I made the conversation lighter and said, "Doesn't this remind you of the Meat Packing District in New York?" To which he replied, "Yes, about 15 years ago."

This exchange between me-a resident who lived through the remnants of the "Rayful Edmonds" years in Near Northeast- and a new restauranteur, hoping to "make his mark" in this gentrified neighborhood, is a constant reminder of how dismissive and naive some "new comers" are to the significant impact and value of the support of us "old timers".

There are several great restaurants/owners on H Street, who share their lease status with residents in order to help gain support when their liquor licenses are in jeopardy; when they want to get extensions and are concerned about maintaining a good rapport with local residents...I hope this gentleman does not take these issues "PERSONAL", should they befall his "tenure". :)


5th Street

Alan Page said...


By 2006, a sizable number of my neighbors were already gone.

ps: I'm not doubting Dr. Freeman's qualifications, I'm doubting whether his findings were accurately characterized.

Alan Page said...

"Property owners can not be displaced"

Please don't make general statements like that, for which history provides many exceptions.

Google the history of freeways cutting through Southwest DC, for example.

Robert Mann-Thompson said...
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Robert Mann-Thompson said...


Thank you for your feedback, we will consider that googling option. It wasn't something we thought about. We will also thank you for all of your efforts making DC a better place for all. You are truly an asset to the District. We are very happy you are engaged here. You are one of the best things that has happened to this Blog. We will personally write the main blogger to tell her how happy we are that you are here.

There is nothing better and more refreshing than reading your words. It really is an honor. We would not be able to face the world w/o your steady guidance.

We thank you Alan, you underscore what is bright and brilliant in the world. We could only imagine being as well read and thoughtful as you.

-Dead Horses

media assassin said...

Wow, everybody here is so intelligent! It's just so hard to contain myself! I bought and sold in the area and to tell you the truth, it's good to be gone because this area is becoming nothing but bunch of pretentious little ticks (annoying) that think they are entitled to everything and of course know every damn thing! Take H Street and shove it all the way up in your anus!