Gentrification is a term imbued with an assumption about the negative impact of demographic change and neighborhood improvement on existing residents.

In an effort to add a new dimension to the gentrification debate, CHPC conducted a study in 2002 that played a pivotal role in the gentrification debate of the last decade.  Frank Braconi, former Executive Director of CHPC, along with Lance Freeman of Columbia University wrote “Gentrification and Displacement: New York City in the 1990’s (pdf). Braconi and Freeman used survey data to estimate the migration patterns of poor New Yorkers in neighborhoods that people associate with gentrification.  Contrary to the conventional idea, their study concluded low-income households actually seem less likely to move from improved neighborhoods than from other communities. Gentrification and Displacement received national attention as several national journals and newspapers ran articles that cited the study, either supporting or rebutting its conclusion.

Following this, we decided to embark on a brand-new CHPC study of gentrification. Since defining gentrification has always been a politically charged endeavor, our first aim is to quantitatively define gentrification in the most rigorous way possible.  The result is what we call GentriMetrics, the most comprehensive index of neighborhood change ever to be fashioned for New York City.

GentriMetrics is an interactive web feature that provides the largest, most comprehensive, objective and quantifiable assessments of neighborhood change ever seen in New York City. Over 12 features of change that people associate within the catch-all of gentrification have been collated under the themes of: Demographic Change, Neighborhood Improvement, and Existing Resident Vulnerability.  The data covers 1991-2008 for every three year period.   The results are projected onto an interactive map that helps the user to visualize patterns of neighborhood change.

Firstly, the user is tasked to select the variables that they associate with neighborhood change. They will be able to hone in on each neighborhood to read more about the type of change that occurred there.

Second, the user will be able to scrutinize the three main themes of change separately: Demographic Change, Neighborhood Improvement, and Existing Resident Vulnerability. This section will allow the users to see certain patterns of change overlaid with other patterns of change. They will also be able to test the overall correlation between the three themes of change.

Thirdly, the user will be able to examine these processes even further. In addition to the three main themes of change, users will be able to view overlaid maps showing a variety of variables that make urban processes multi-faceted i.e. the percentage of public housing in the neighborhood, the amount of housing development in the neighborhood, demographic change that occurred for existing residents vs new residents etc.  Again, the user can select combinations of maps and can also test the correlation between these urban processes.

Finally, the user will be able to project the current rates of change into the future. This feature will be able to support the work of the housing and urban planning industry to shape the long-term housing and infrastructure needs of changing neighborhoods.

We are currently seeking funding for web development and programming of the feature.

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Urban Prospect: Gentrification and Displacement


Buoyed by a booming national economy, a dramatic decline in crime, and continuing waves of immigration, New York City experienced a renaissance of sorts at the close of the 20th century. To college students who might have previously been deterred by New York’s infamous crime, dot comers who might once have drifted West, and retirees who have flocked to Florida in years past, the rejuvenation of New York made it an increasingly attractive place to live. The downside of this renaissance, however, was an increased demand for housing in an already expensive and tight housing market.

One effect of the …

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