Blog Myth: New Development Will Cause Gentrification and Displacement

May 19, 2021

multifamily under construction from above

New development and displacement often are intertwined. New buildings replace old, rents go up, and long-time residents leave. On the surface, it looks like those expensive new buildings must be driving up rents and property taxes, causing the displacement of the long-time residents.

But, it’s not actually true. By the time those large, shiny new buildings are under construction, the process of gentrification has already been underway for some time. Residents have already been displaced from their homes – often in neighborhoods primed for radical changes through a history of disinvestment. This expensive new development is a symptom of the displacement that’s already happening, not the cause.

Even expensive new condos help to keep rents from spiraling up, as new-to-the-neighborhood residents can and often do choose to live there, if they exist!

This is not the whole story - new developments might raise rents or taxes very close to the new buildings. How do we protect the ability of all long-term residents to live where they are now? By building new housing across all neighborhoods, and focusing on neighborhoods less vulnerable to displacement.

The most effective long-term counter for displacement is to build more housing, whatever its cost may be.

view of a line of brick rowhomes

Further Reading