Photo: Earl McGehee/Flickr
Often when lower-income neighborhoods begins to experience an influx of more affluent residents, long-time residents are often displaced by rising prices, or a process referred to as gentrification. Realtor.com recently compiled a report that tracked where in the US this process was occurring at a heightened pace.
To see which cities were gentrifying at the fastest rate, Realtor.com looked at US cities with populations of 50,000 or more between 2000 and 2015, according to data from the US Census Bureau. Next, it used Census data to examine neighborhoods of between 1,200 and 8,000 people, concentrating on lower-income areas “with home values that had the potential for gentrification.” Finally, it compared home values as well as income and education levels between 2000 and 2015 to assess which cities had the biggest turnaround.
With a “gentrification potential of 62.5 percent,” Charleston, SC was the city gentrifying the fastest. From 2000 to 2015 the median home value increased nearly 78 percent from $152,1000 in 2000 to $270,000 in 2015. Gentrification began in 2001 when a run-down low income housing project was razed and replaced with an upscale housing development. Also, according to Census data, many areas that were primarily African-American, have shifted to white middle-class families since 1990.
Asheville, NC, the city Rolling Stone once called “America’s new freak capital” due to its increased population of musicians and artists, landed in the number two spot on the list, with a gentrification potential of 50 percent. Aside from the hippies and artists, Asheville draws a large tourist population thanks to its local breweries, as well as upscale golf courses. The median home value increased 88 percent between 2000 and 2015, and in fact homes in gated communities can sell for as high as $6.5 million, according to Realtor.com.
The nation’s capital has recorded a 228.3 percent increase in the area’s median home value between 2000 and 2015. DC Mayor Anthony Williams had ambitious plans to revitalize the city’s more depressed neighborhoods. Today, DC is a hub of the arts, upscale eateries and housing, and local, trendy bars. Areas like the U Street corridor draw tourists and city residents alike, and make it a very desirable area to buy a home in.
Other cities that made the list were Portland, OR, Denver, CO, Nashville, TN, Sacramento, CA, Jersey City, NJ, Long Beach, CA, and Austin, TX.
Gentrification is a often a mixed bag. For long-time residents, they may be forced out of their homes and neighborhoods as a result of rising costs as neighborhoods become “desirable” to outsiders with greater economic means. Reduction in crime rates, investment in urban development, and increased economic opportunity are often the chief ingredients that revitalize a poor to working class neighborhood.
Although homeowners can make a hefty profit when selling their home in a gentrifying neighborhood, it can often leave some residents out in the cold if they are unable to afford to stay. Residents might be able to move to a nearby neighborhood to enjoy some of the benefits of gentrification without the higher living costs.
In New York City, the rezoning of Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 2005 spurred massive growth to the neighborhood and Williamsburg’s gentrification made it one of the hottest neighborhoods in New York City, with prices to match.
Gentrification is a trade-off according to urban economics professor at Villanova University David Fiorenza.
Whole communities can be displaced,” he says. “But people [also] can benefit from it, because home values and business values go up… and eventually, there will be more jobs and better schools.”
That is, only If displaced residents can afford to stick close by to reap the benefits.
Click here to read the entire report.