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What is Gentrification?

Have you ever noticed how much of the cost of living in heavily populated areas is significantly higher than in places with a lower population? Have you observed the specific demographic in these areas, the real estate developments, and the price increase of ordinarily affordable items? All of these are direct effects of gentrification. The Urban Displacement Project defines gentrification as the process in which historically disinvested neighborhoods change economically and physically through real estate investments and higher-income citizens moving in ( For those that have just moved to a new city, the Starbucks around the corner, Whole Foods two blocks away, LA Fitness across the street, and the influx of new businesses popping up is a wonderland. For most of the people who’ve lived in the neighborhood for most of their lives, especially people of color and underprivileged individuals, it can be a nightmare. 

What’s the problem with it? Isn’t the introduction of healthy alternatives and more job opportunities better for the community? For natives, no, it usually isn’t. With the flood of developments coming in, rent increases, taxes increase, and the gap between the new cost of living in these areas and an existing resident’s income are huge. This leads to eviction, foreclosure, and displacement of community natives. Gentrification harms the economy. A 2016 report by the McKinsey Global Institute titled A tool kit to close California’s housing gap: 3.5 million homes by 2025, “calculates that housing shortages statewide cost the California economy between $143 billion and $233 billion per year” ( Since homeowners and renters are having to focus more of their funds on the exponential spikes in property taxes and rent, they are consuming fewer goods and contributing to a 53 to 63 million dollar economic loss ( 

The simplified definition of gentrification is no reflection of the actual complexity that goes into the process. Gentrification has deeply ingrained roots that stem from historic policies, racist laws, and inequitable conditions. The Urban Displacement Project states that from the 1930s to the 60s, people of color were continually denied loans and were deemed “unfit for investment”. ( This practice, known as redlining, was set by the federal government and carried out by banks across the country.  

In cities like New York with a total population of 8,398,748 people and a total of 4,515 neighborhoods, gentrified neighborhoods are at an increasing 24%. ( In San Francisco, the median rent of a typical 2BR apartment went up nearly 70% between 2011 and 2017 ( Every night, more than 92,000 people in New York State — many of whom are women, and many of whom are women of color — sleep in a shelter (

In a March 2019 study done by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an organization committed to creating opportunities for people to build wealth, the study claims that more than 135,000 people were displaced between 2000 and 2012. ( The foreclosure crisis in 2007 contributed to the growth of gentrification. Inordinate subprime lending levels led to excessive foreclosures, which allowed investors to purchase those homes for significantly less and flip them for profit. Changemakers, like New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie, community advocate Cea Weaver and politician Jumanne Williams, are just a few people who are fighting for equitable housing for all. They create and fight for policies like rent stabilization and affordable housing in New York. The issue of gentrification spans all across the United States. As individuals, advocates, and future lawmakers, we can do our part to maintaining a livable and affordable right to housing. No one should have to be displaced from their homes because of inequitable spikes in the cost of living. 


  • Gentrification harms the poor by creating an oppressive system that increases the cost of living for low-income residents. 
  • Gentrification harms the economy because residents spend more money on their increasing cost of living and less money on consumer goods.
  • Between 2000 and 2012 more than 135,000 people were displaced. Out of that, close to 111,000 of these victims were African American and more than 24,000 were Hispanic. ( 
  • Historic events like redlining and the foreclosure crisis negatively impacted the way of living for thousands of residents who couldn’t afford to live in their homes anymore.
  • Affordable housing and stabilized prices of living should be a right for all that is enforced by the federal government. 

1 Comment

  • Nathanw
    Posted May 18, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    Thanks for posting this. It drives me mad hearing my white friends talk about how the areas are looking better or safer when it’s really gentrification and people are losing their homes

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