Gentrification and Displacement

Cities around the nation are undergoing profound economic and demographic change. For some residents, this signifies growing opportunity. But for lower-income households and communities of color, these changes—categorized broadly as gentrification pressures—are increasingly resulting in displacement from long-time homes and neighborhoods, often to suburban and exurban areas. Why does this matter? What role can community development play in addressing gentrification and displacement pressures?

Gentrification is a form of neighborhood change driven by a complex interaction between historic practices that created and reinforced disinvestment in low-income communities and communities of color and modern investment patterns that are now radically reshaping the economic conditions in those same neighborhoods. As neighborhood economics change, long-time residents are frequently being pushed out, generating a range of consequences for children, families, and entire communities. For youth, displacement to far-flung reaches of a city can interrupt school attendance patterns and access to health care providers; for adults, these moves can interfere with access to jobs, social supports, and other daily necessities. At scale, these forces change the cultural, economic, political, and demographic make-up of neighborhoods, cities, and entire regions, with lower-income households often bearing more burden than benefit from those changes.

“Gentrification Explained” explores the factors that contribute to gentrification, what gentrification looks like on the ground, and the impact of gentrification on communities, including displacement.

“Pushed Out” is a short explainer video that explores the drivers, forms, and long-term impacts of displacement.

The SF Fed has been working with the Urban Displacement Project at UC Berkeley and the Great Communities Collaborative, an initiative of The San Francisco Foundation, to explore existing research and shine a light on the ways these dynamics are playing out in the Bay Area. Together, we’re identifying the range of strategies that public, private, and nonprofit sector stakeholders can use to foster more inclusive and equitable regional growth.

There is no single path to equitable growth; rather, multiple intersecting and complementary strategies are needed to protect against displacement, preserve existing affordability, and produce new affordable housing. Our Bay Area Investment without Displacement workshop series focused on maintaining and expanding housing affordability, but locally-owned small businesses, non-profit organizations, and community and cultural anchors are also threatened by gentrification and displacement pressures, and we need to implement solutions that can help stabilize and sustain these community-serving entities.

Displacement is a complex process. It takes many forms and happens at varying paces and scales. To get better at designing community investment strategies that don’t lead to displacement, we need to learn to recognize the numerous displacement pressures affecting housing stability and neighborhood choice. We also need to recognize the impacts of displacement. It’s not just a one-time unfortunate event; it has long-lasting consequences for families and their communities, with low-income people and people of color often hit hardest. 

We offer the videos above and resources below to help stakeholders in your region explore the full range of drivers and consequences of gentrification and displacement affecting your communities. We encourage you to use the videos to generate dialogue and action on policy and programmatic responses that can help make our cities and regions places of opportunity for everyone. 

Staff Contact

Naomi Cytron
Regional Manager, Northern California
Community Development | Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

Related

Gentrification, Displacement and the Role of Public Investment: A Literature Review

Resources related to “Gentrification Explained”

Resources related to “Pushed out”

Urban Displacement Project Maps

Investment without Displacement Workshop Series Materials