Reports, Working Papers, and Publications

Gentrification and Opportunity Zones: A Study of 100 Most Populous Cities with D.C. as a Case Study

Haydar Kurban, Charlotte Otabor, Bethel Cole-Smith and Gauri Shankar Gautam


This article explores the role of gentrification in the selection of Opportunity Zone (OZ) census tracts, as well as the potential impact of OZ on gentrification in the 100 most populous urban areas in the United States and in Washington, D.C. It analyzes the role of gentrification in the selection of OZ census tracts in 100 core-based statistical areas (CBSAs). A CBSA is a geographic area defined in terms of counties, which consists of an urban area of at least 10,000 population and its surrounding socially and economically integrated areas. Next, we test whether gentrification has differential impacts on economic activity in OZ and non-OZ neighborhoods in the 100 most populous metropolitan areas. If so, we then use the District of Columbia (D.C.) as a case study to analyze the impact of gentrification on migration in D.C. and predict the impact of economic activity in OZ-eligible neighborhoods. We construct an educationbased gentrification measure to analyze the relationship between OZs and gentrification in CBSAs. Our descriptive analysis of the 100 most populous urban areas in the United States (100 CBSAs) indicates that, although it appears that gentrified census tracts were not favored to receive OZ designation, the statistical relationships between gentrification and business and residential vacancy rates are stronger in OZ-designated tracts. In D.C., we find that gentrification has been spreading to more neighborhoods in OZ eligible neighborhoods. Using administrative data from the D.C. government, we find that in-migration rates of higher income residents are significantly higher compared to their out-migration rates. We examine OZ eligible census tracts to understand the expected destination of new investment, measured as the number of permits, and find that census tracts with positive net migration and lower business vacancy rates are likely to receive increased financing.

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We make us safe: Alternatives to policing in a Latinx immigrant inner-ring suburb

Willow Lung-Amam, Nohely Alvarez, and Rodney Green


Inner-ring suburbs have experienced disinvestment, White flight and concentrated poverty alongside increasingly racialized, anti-immigrant policing. Yet scholarship has tended to overlook these neighborhoods as sites of violent policing or models of community safety. In a 4-year collaborative community-based crime reduction project, this case study investigates how uneven development policies and underdevelopment in a low-income Latinx inner-ring suburb gave rise to and supported racialized policing and safety concerns. We also assess the possibilities of addressing community safety by investing in community building and revitalization. The research shows how the legacy of neighborhood disinvestment and deprivation contributed to a lack of quality affordable housing, public spaces, healthcare, employment, and other conditions that support residents’ well-being—and thereby challenged public safety. Activities focused on community building and revitalization offered a positive and impactful alternative to community policing. While activities that invested in community policing demonstrated few successes, efforts focused on strengthening community knowledge, connecting residents to resources, engaging residents in community placemaking, and investing in youth had far better and potentially long-lasting results. The study suggests avenues to improve neighborhood safety in immigrant, Latinx, and declining suburbs without new investments in policing that too often puts residents at risk.

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Contributing Factors to the Housing Cost Burden of Female-Headed Households

LaTanya N. Brown-Robertson and Augustin Ntembe


While the United States housing cost burden has reached historically high levels for all households in recent years, female-headed households with children tend to bear a significant portion this burden. This study uses data from the 2015 and 2019 American Housing Survey to explore the disparities in housing cost burdens among female-headed households. In general, the results from the fixed effect model reveal that housing assistance significantly decreases the female-headed household's housing cost burden, while renting tends to increase the female householders' housing burden compared to owning. The fixed effect parameters suggest that single Black mothers experienced a high housing cost burden in 2015 and 2019, more than any other category of Black female-headed households for both years. Likewise, single Hispanic mothers also face large housing cost burdens, which increased from 2015 to 2019. This finding should guide inquiries into the impact of changes in federal policies on the  immigrant status on the rising housing cost burden of the Hispanic female cohort. The study's findings suggest an increase in public housing and rental assistance programs that benefit single black mothers with children and other vulnerable households.

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The Indirect Displacement Hypothesis: A Case Study in Washington, D.C.

Rodney Green and Andre Byers

Abstract Stereotypes abound about the clash between newcomers to urban neighborhoods and their longstanding residents. In a case study of Columbia Heights in the District of Columbia, the preferences and attitudes of newcomers and longstanding residents are compared. The comparison will help assess the extent to which indirect displacement pressures in the domain of retail activity might be occurring in Columbia Heights. Data from surveys conducted in 2008 by the Howard University Center for Urban Progress (HUCUP) form the empirical base of this study. A total of 217 completed surveys were received, 116 from an Internet survey and 101 one-on-one street interviews. The sample was split into thirds (according to length of time that the participant lived in the neighborhood) leading to break points at two years and eight years of residency. All respondents who lived in the neighborhood two years or less or eight years or more were kept in the final sample. The former were defined as "newcomers" and the latter were defined as "longstanding residents". There were 77 newcomers and 74 longstanding residents in the final sample. The survey instrument inquired about respondents’ opinions about the availability and quality of stores by type, the variety of stores, and what types of stores they would like to see added to the neighborhood. Respondents were then asked their assessment of the new commercial developments and of the previously existing businesses in the corridor. Chi-square tests were used to test the hypotheses that there were differences between the two populations – newcomers and long-standing residents – in terms of preferences and attitudes. The findings demonstrated significant differences between the two groups in terms of their opinions about the commercial corridor, although both groups were generally pleased with the new retail developments. The analysis of these data weakly supports the hypothesis that indirect factors could heighten pressures for displacement of longstanding residents, but it is argued that the main focus of gentrification studies should continue to be on the direct economic factors affecting longstanding residents during neighborhood revitalization.

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Suburban Gentrification: change, stasis, and TOD along Maryland’s Purple Line

Nicholas Finio

The Washington Metropolitan area has been growing rapidly and experiencing gentrification since the 1980s. Contemporaneously, a light rail corridor in the inner suburbs was planned and is currently being constructed. This light rail, Maryland’s Purple Line, travels through dense urban areas, post-war era suburbs, and through a series of low-income immigrant gateway neighborhoods. Through a case study of the planning and lived experience of residents along the Purple Line’s alignment, this paper examines the costs and benefits of the modern paradigm of TOD. The potential benefits of the line may be imbalanced against its costs in the short run, especially with respect to housing stability and affordability, displacement, and neighborhood change. In the long run, economic efficiency and growth catalyzed by this public investment may shift the societal balance toward a net positive, but measuring this will be challenging. The tenuous political coalitions that support construction of light rail retrofitted into auto-oriented places will have to adjust to be more inclusive of equity, vulnerable populations, and provision of affordable housing.

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Gentrification and the History of Power and Oppression of African Americans in Washington DC

This chapter examines gentrification and the history of power and wealth that impacts and oppresses older African Americans in Washington, DC. African Americans have been displaced as neighborhoods have changed and more affluent residents have supplanted them. Older African Americans have shared their narratives with social workers about how gentrification impacts their lives. Their stories reveal links to gentrification, generational wealth, and the denial of wealth. The goals of this chapter include examining some of the historical facets of gentrification and the links to generational wealth; revealing how some historical foundation points of racism have been woven through government housing policies at the local, state, and federal levels to advantage one group; and showing how the complexity of related power oppresses and compounds social isolation. These issues negatively impact older African Americans and their families, destroying culture and economic opportunity.

Robert L. Cosby, Gentrification and the History of Power and Oppression of Older African Americans in Washington, DC In: Social Work, White Supremacy, and Racial Justice. Laura S. Abrams, Sandra Edmonds Crewe, Alan J. Dettlaff, and James Herbert Williams, Oxford University Press. © Oxford University Press 2023. DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780197641422.003.0004

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