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Development, Housing Affordability, and Gentrification

September 25, 2012
Jen Horton, Policy and Planning Fellow, US EPA, for the Smart Growth Network

Raksha Vasudevan posted recently on the National League of Cities’ blog a three-part series entitled “Development, Housing Affordability, and Gentrification.” The posts explore gentrification as an unintended consequence of economic redevelopment, and discuss tools cities are using to address mobility and affordability issues.

This first post examines why affordability and mobility are problems in neighborhoods undergoing redevelopment. Vasudevan discusses the rapidly changing Shaw neighborhood in northwest Washington, DC as an example. Vasudevan asks hard questions about the future of development trends, such as what types of housing amenities the 85 million members of Generation Y will seek in the coming years, and how their preferences will affect affordability and mobility for urban neighborhoods.

Part 1: Exploring the Issues The second post outlines three principles to help people "understand, prioritize, and plan redevelopment efforts" in order to alter where and how redevelopment occurs. Vasudevan asserts that the avoiding community displacement requires examining the intention behind the redevelopment plan. Part 2: Knowing Your City In the third post, Vasudevan discusses equitable development tools that are already available to local governments and community organizations. She also proposes a set of universal guiding principles to help communities achieve equity and affordability during redevelopment. Part 3: Using the Tools Are there other tools or approaches communities can use to address affordable housing, displacement, and equity issues? What do you think are the greatest barriers that prevent communities from developing in more equitable ways?

1 comment

Comment from: Rick Rybeck [Visitor]
The goal of more inclusive, equitable and affordable redevelopment is important. The tools mentioned in Part 3 can be beneficial. However, they are more effective when the underlying economic externalities related to real estate markets are addressed directly. One tool for simultaneously enhancing the affordability of buildings and land is discussed in an article, "Using Value Capture to Finance Infrastructure and Encourage Compact Development." It can be found at
11/02/12 @ 09:35

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