April 30, 2002

THAT’S MISTER YUPPIE SCUM, TO YOU: According to this article, gentrification may be good for neighborhoods, and even for the poor people who live in them. The reduction in crime and improvement in amenities have something to do with it:

“Low-income households actually seem less likely to move from gentrifying neighborhoods than from other communities,” said a recent report by the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, a New York nonprofit organization that analyzed demographic shifts in the city over the last few years.

If low-income residents remain in gentrifying areas, then they can enjoy the community improvement that gentrification generally brings. . . . “I really didn’t find any evidence that it did push poor people out,” Vigdor says of his study of demographic changes in gentrifying neighborhoods in Boston. “In fact I found a good amount of evidence that they’re more likely to stick around.”

Even though rents go up in gentrifying neighborhoods, Vigdor found long-term residents wanted to stay to enjoy the better environment for children, the increased local services, and the possibility of new jobs in the area.

“Basically you’ve got two factors,” says Braconi. “You’ve got rents maybe increasing — that makes it harder for poor people to stay — by the same token gentrification brings with it a lot of community improvement.”

Wow. Who’d've thought that poor people might actually benefit when their neighborhoods get better?