The Dream Revisited
Discussion 4: Neighborhood Gentrification

Discussion 4: Neighborhood Gentrification

May 2014

The fourth discussion explores the relationship between gentrification, neighborhood integration, and public participation.


  • Transforming Gentrification into Integration

    by Rachel D. Godsil

    Gentrification is not equated with integration even if in literal terms, a neighborhood’s demographics have become more racially, ethnically, and economically diverse.  The reasons are myriad, but generally people focus on two related but distinct phenomena: forced displacement and imposed culture shift. These concerns are not illusory – as anyone who has spent time in Bed-Stuy or neighboring Crown Heights, Brooklyn recently can attest.


  • Choice and Gentrification

    by Olatunde Johnson

    If change is truly inevitable, one might wonder who constitutes the “community.” One might feel less confident in determining who is “old” and who is “new,” or in identifying the point at which neighborhoods begin to change. Further, many of the urban neighborhoods whose character we wish to preserve are a construct of discriminatory public policy and private discrimination – revealing the complexity of disavowing that history yet honoring individual and family connections to place.

  • Creating Integrated Communities is more than Preventing Displacement

    by Lance Freeman

    Rachel Godsil’s observation of increased racial and socio-economic diversity in Bedford-Stuyvesant is borne out by more systematic research that I have undertaken that shows that neighborhoods that experienced gentrification across the 1980s and 1990s were more diverse both in racial and ethnic terms and in terms of socioeconomic status than other central city neighborhoods that did not experience gentrification (Freeman 2009). Despite the increased diversity associated with gentrification, however, cynicism and despair are the hallmarks of this type of neighborhood change. Godsil’s idea offers a starting point for addressing some of the fears associated with gentrification.

  • It’ll Take More Than a Voucher

    by Brad Lander

    We’ve built and preserved hundreds of units of affordable housing, helped thousands of people find good jobs in growing sectors, pioneered new “inclusionary zoning” and 421-a tax incentive policies, and helped to preserve rent regulations. 

    But we certainly have not succeeded in preserving diversity.  Rents and home prices are no longer affordable for young professionals, much less teachers or artists, much less old-timers or low-income families. Even in those places where there’s a bit more diversity within a few blocks (e.g. near subsidized housing), the schools often remain more segregated than the neighborhood.

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