Is Gentrification Different When It’s Not in a Booming Metro?

Posted by Miriam Axel-Lute on May 6, 2014

Interesting research that adds a wrinkle to the gentrification conversation: Todd Swanstrom writes about "rebound" neighborhoods in St. Louis and how they don't follow the typical "gentrification" pattern. Does this mean it can't happen? No, but it's a good reminder to look at what is actually happening, wherever you are, instead of making assumptions. I'll be very interested to see the follow up on these areas over the longer term.

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Miriam Axel-Lute is editor of Shelterforce and associate director of the National Housing Institute. Her email is miriam at nhi dot org.

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Barbara Samuels
6 May 14, 8:12 pm

Does it even make sense to use the term “gentrification” to describe improving “rebound neighborhoods” in weak market cities, especially when the neighborhoods are diverse and affordable for long term residents?  It just muddles the policy conversation to use what has become a pejorative and largely ideological term in struggling legacy cities that could use some “rebound neighborhoods.”

Miriam Axel-Lute
22 May 14, 1:56 pm

Barbara, That’s a fair point. I think that was to some extent the point of the research even; what they found wouldn’t meet my definition of gentrification. On the other hand, I can tell you that the term gets used in those cities whenever revitalization begins, so I think it should be addressed rather than ignored. Also, I don’t think gentrification is impossible in these cities—it’s just less likely. But perhaps a better headline would have been “In Metros that Aren’t Booming, Some Neighborhoods Rebound Without Gentrification.”

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