NPR: “studies are now showing that gentrifying neighborhoods may be a boon to longtime residents as well”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Joe in DC

When newspapers call me for an interview they always ask me if I see older residents moving out due to gentrification. I always say, ‘I guess it could be happening in some neighborhoods but I’m not seeing that on my block, in my neighborhood.’ I’m glad to see there are new studies coming out investigating this – here’s an interesting report from NPR:

“But a series of new studies are now showing that gentrifying neighborhoods may be a boon to longtime residents as well — and that those residents may not be moving out after all.

Freeman’s work found that low-income residents were no more likely to move out of their homes when a neighborhood gentrifies than when it doesn’t.”

It’s worth reading the whole article here focusing on H Street, NE.

49 Comment

  • Dang – so now what are folks left to debate in comment threads?!?

    • Frankly, the results of this study have been pretty obvious to me. It’s only talking about homeowners. Gentrification is great for them. The neighborhood improves and their home become far more valuable.

      On a neighbor to neighbor level I think everyone is good. People get a long. Political power is a more touchy matter. People still tend to support politicians from their racial group. It’s a deeply rooted instinct that is hard to break. I’m sure it will be very emotional for some people when DC has it’s first non-black mayor. Black politicians will try to stoke those sensitivities to win votes. Anita Bonds famously did that in the most recent last special election.

  • I was always under the impression that gentrification drove out the longtime business owners, not the residents.

    • It drives out residents who are not in rent-controlled apartments/homes.

      • Except that the study in the report concludes that it doesn’t.

        • No, it doesn’t. The article cites two studies. Theone by the Cleveland Fed didn’t look at displacement, it just measured (and found a small increase) in credit scores of residents. The Freeman study found that ” higher costs can push out renters, especially those who are elderly, disabled or without rent-stabilized apartments.”

    • every longtime business owner in my neighborhood bloomingdale lives in the suburbs

      • I had to laugh when I took my mother-in-law to our neighborhood for the first time and she said “Oh, it’s just like in India! The shop owners live in the apartments up above.” Uh, not exactly. 🙂

  • jim_ed

    but this doesn’t conveniently fit the narrative I’ve been beaten over the head with for so long!

  • This just affects investors profits, because they now will have to pay more money to get the older residents to move out. So we’ll see less of the full-gut renovations and they will go back to slapping “lipstick on a pig” types and dump it back on the market, as the properties will be able to only appraise for so much.

    I think those that have bought recently and or buying in the near future will endup with the best deal- having a newly/updated home at the same cost of renos down the line.

  • If you ask me, this is a “duh” article. Of course so-called gentrification benefits longtime residents. Less crime, better services, higher property value. Personally, I do not see any longtime residents being “pushed out” of my neighborhood (which is actually the neighborhood featured in the article). If anything, they’ll probably stay longer because it’s a better, safer place to live.

    • People were pushed out at 5th and Rhode Island, N.W. One year ago I saw an old building with residents in it. Several months later it was empty and being gutted out. Units are now for sale.

      • Ok…that might be true, but it’s not the same neighborhood I mentioned. Like I said, in my personal experience I have not seen any long-time residents get pushed out.

        • Maybe they got pushed out before you got there? Not trying to be antagonistic — just suggesting that these are likely long-term trends.

      • Those people moved to PG long ago. They still drive in along traffic sewers, though, to collect a paycheck from the jobs that came with gentrification. And they still drop their kids off at DC charter schools, which serve as babysitters.

  • bicycles, dogs, kids, small plates, salt, crime / safety perception… help me out here folks

  • – It seems like they interviewed the long time residents of gentrifying neighborhoods who were able to stay. Those were likely people who owned their homes AND who had the wherewithal to pay their increasing taxes. People on fixed incomes and renters without rent controls likely left — and were not included in the study. All the gentrifiers who moved in – moved into places that prior residents left. Has anybody studied the residents who left to determine why they did so? If not, that’s a big oversight.

    • longtime residents by and large don’t get pushed out. the people pushed out are transients who aren’t old time residents anyway. in ledroit park 1/3 of the neighborhood was boarded up, and another 1/3 was flophouses, before gentrification. the remaining third, people who had been here for decades, is quite evidently still here.

      • …or have passed away, leaving their children bonanzas of cash.

      • Yep, same on my block in CH. When we bought our place, the block was about half flophouses. Those are ALL gone now, replaced by beige-on-beige flips, sometimes with rental basements. The elderly folks who were here when we arrived ten years ago are either still here, or (in the case of two houses) have been replaced by their adult children and their families. I’ve only seen ONE long-time resident lose her house to a possible force of gentrification: the new neighbors complained to DCRA about her outdoor hoarding and rats and she was fined to the point of being forced to sell. She had taken out a huge HE loan at the height and was upsidedown; couldn’t afford to make the required improvements even if she had wanted to.

      • Yep. This is what always boggles my mind about the gentrification discussions in DC. People operate on the assumption that gentrification here means the same as it means elsewhere in America, which they equate with displacement gentrification. DC largely has been in-fill gentrification, in which previously vacant properties are rehabilitated and new people move in. Anybody who remembers Columbia Heights in 2004 and earlier gets this — From the Allegro to the Metro station along 14th Street, not a single person was displaced from a residence, yet there have probably been 2500 new people introduced to the neighborhood in the new developments.

    • I know I should not comment but…

      “All the gentrifiers who moved in – moved into places that prior residents left. Has anybody studied the residents who left to determine why they did so? If not, that’s a big oversight”

      A fair amount of new residents moved into new construction in NoMa (I hate that name) Columbia Heights, U Street etc. (Harrison Square, Lincoln building and others were built on vacant lots) . Some long time black residents ‘cashed out’ because they chose to do so an retired in the South, part of a bigger trend.

      I will say this It definitely seem harder for Howard students (and others too) to stay in DC neighborhoods like Bloomingdale, LeDroit Park, U Street if they have student loans but don’t have parents who can subsidize their $1,800 – $2,000 rent.

  • Normally, the people who are concerned about gentrification are also concerned about 116 other social issues. No single study will convince them that their worldview isn’t righteous. They would rather criticize NPR for doing the story than take the study seriously.

    • You don’t make friends too easily, eh? But yea, these “studies” are of dubious value as they’re largely pointing out the obvious.

    • Actually some of us are glad that NPR did the study, but recognize that the study has limitations. Some of us also appreciate the validity of the comments that people are making regarding their own experiences in their current neighborhoods — but again, recognize that these comments have limitations. “Limitations” doesn’t mean that the comments aren’t true — it just suggests that they may be specific to some situations, not necessarily generalizable, and not necessarily the full picture. So my questions — which were addressed to an extent in the article that JoeEsq74 linked to — focus on seeing gentrification as likely a long term process as well as a short term one, that has a multi-faceted economic impact. While long-term residents who are able to stay in their gentrified neighborhoods may appreciate the benefits of their changing neighborhoods, it would be illuminating to also get information from the people who did not stay in the neighborhoods as well.

    • So being concerned about 117 social issues is a bad thing – what is your acceptable number?

  • What so facts and research trump emotion and anecodtes?
    (clutching my pearls) Well I never!

  • If you don’t want to get priced out of neighborhood buy. If you can’t afford to buy work harder and make more money. Simple and Easy.

    • Honestly, I worked harder in all of the hourly jobs I’ve had than any of the (higher paid) salaried job. Not such a simple equation, really

      • Very true. It’s more like either have enough money to go to college and get a degree so you can get a higher paying job wherein you may or may not work harder than you do at a menial hourly one, or get good enough grades in high school that you can get a scholarship or go into massive amounts of debt for most of your life to pay off your ridiculously overpriced education. Hmmm…not so simple is it?

    • Mitt? Is that you?

  • I moved into my neighborhood (Park View/Petworth area) 11-12 years ago, and at that time I was 1 of 5 new people on the street. Now there are only 6-7 old timers on my street, and the rest are all new residents (all but 1 family is white).

    In my case, the person I bought from moved to NC; and the rest of the changes have been b/c the residents were very elderly and passed away. the small number of old timers have verbally stated in public that they are very grateful for the change in community and they are staying.

    • This has largely been my experience as well. The long-timers who plan on staying (and can afford the rising tax rates) seem to very much support the positive changes to their neighborhoods.

    • This was my experience as well. The elderly neighbors were especially happy to see us sweep and clean up the street because that is what they did as well (when they were physically able.) In Columbia Heights, it seems that almost all of the elderly people’s kids had moved to PG County. When their parents needed help, they generally moved them out to live nearer to them. They then sold the house.

  • Hahahahahahahahahaha! Best comment of the day – you win today’s funny!

  • The critical factor is owner vs renter. Owners do better with gentrification largely, many renters probably do suffer plenty of negatives especially if they are low income and rent goes up.

  • You forgot the dogs. Pop-ups hate dogs.

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