“Gentrification has a much bigger effect and poses far bigger risks for renters.”


New Albany is gentrifying, at least in comparative terms.

Taking into consideration the Gahan administration’s emphasis on scattered pockets of heavily subsidized “luxury,” the mayor’s concurrent war on public housing — which in reality is far less “welfare” than affordable housing for the working poor — and his failure to fully mobilize rental property inspections, it’s clear that the risk of displacement described by Florida will be borne (yet again) by those New Albanians least able to cope.

Gentrification Has Virtually No Effect on Homeowners; The risk of displacement falls largely on renters, by Richard Florida (CityLab)

Gentrification is the hottest of hot-button urban issues. Many activists and critics see it as essentially a process by which more affluent and educated white newcomers displace poorer, working-class black residents. But those who have studied the subject closely, like Columbia University urban planner Lance Freeman, believe that the issue of displacement is more myth than reality. In fact, Freeman’s detailed empirical research has found that the probability of a family being displaced by gentrification in New York City was a mere 1.3 percent.

Now a recent study by Isaac William Martin and Kevin Beck in Urban Affairs Review helps deepen our understanding of the issue of displacement. It’s the first study I’ve come across that separates out the effects of gentrification on renters versus homeowners. Previous research, including Freeman’s landmark research, grouped renters and owners together …


… The big takeaway is that gentrification has a much bigger effect and poses far bigger risks for renters, who tend to have lower incomes, are subject to rising rents, and can be evicted from their apartments. For many today, the solution to today’s urban housing affordability problem is to deregulate land use and build more housing. But this is likely to help more advantaged homeowners, who already benefit from the substantial subsidy that comes from their ability to deduct the interest paid on their mortgages. It’s time for housing policy to focus on lower-income renters who face the highest housing burdens—and the biggest risk of being displaced by gentrification.