NCRC: Shifting neighborhoods: Gentrification and cultural displacement in American cities

Shifting Neighbors: Gentrification and cultural displacement in American cities

Jason Richardson, Director, Research & Evaluation, NCRC
Bruce Mitchell, Ph.D., Senior Research Analyst, NCRC
Juan Franco, Senior GIS Specialist, NCRC


Gentrification is a powerful force for economic change in our cities, but it is often accompanied by extreme and unnecessary cultural displacement.[1] While gentrification increases the value of properties in areas that suffered from prolonged disinvestment, it also results in rising rents, home and property values. As these rising costs reduce the supply of affordable housing, existing residents, who are often black or Hispanic, are displaced. This prevents them from benefiting from the economic growth and greater availability of services that come with increased investment. Gentrification presents a challenge to communities[2] that are trying to achieve economic revitalization without the disruption that comes with displacement.

This study found that from 2000 through 2013 the following occurred:

  • Gentrification and displacement of long-time residents was most intense in the nation's biggest cities, and rare in most other places.
  • Gentrification was concentrated in larger cities with vibrant economies, but also appeared in smaller cities where it often impacted areas with the most amenities near central business districts.
  • Displacement of black and Hispanic residents accompanied gentrification in many places and impacted at least 135,000 people in our study period. In Washington, D.C., 20,000 black residents were displaced, and in Portland, Oregon, 13 percent of the black community was displaced over the decade.
  • Seven cities accounted for nearly half of the gentrification nationally: New York City, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Baltimore, San Diego and Chicago.
  • Washington, D.C., was the most gentrified city by percentage of eligible neighborhoods that experienced gentrification; New York City was the most gentrified by sheer volume. Neighborhoods were considered to be eligible to gentrify if in 2000 they were in the lower 40 percent of home values and family incomes in that metropolitan area.
  • The study lends weight to what critics say is a concentration not only of wealth, but of wealth-building investment, in just a handful of the nation's biggest metropolises, while other regions of the country languish.
  • The strict tests for gentrification and displacement in this study and the limitations of the data available likely undercounted instances of gentrification and displacement.
  • Most low- to moderate-income neighborhoods did not gentrify or revitalize during the period of our study. They remained impoverished, untouched by investments and building booms that occurred in major cities, and vulnerable to future gentrification and displacement.

To view the entire executive summary, visit NCRC.

To read the full Shifting Neighbors report, visit, or click on the following link.

Courtesy of NCRC

Back to Top
Contact Us

Email Us
Newsletter Sign Up


One Empire Plaza
Providence, RI 02903

RI Alliance for Healthy Homes

A project of
HousingWorks RI