Improving Social Equity as Neighborhoods Change: An Expert Dialogue

Neighborhoods are constantly changing as residents come and go, businesses open and close, and properties go up or come down. No place is the same for long. When community changes are widespread or stark, the conversation shifts from change to “gentrification,” the definition of which is often subject to debate. At its heart, gentrification happens when a low-income area that has experienced disinvestment attracts new economic investments and higher-income residents. But the benefits of these changes can be overshadowed by the perpetuation of disadvantage.

This article is a conversation among are Derek Hyra, associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Center at American University; Lance Freeman, professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University; Awesta Sarkash, director of advocacy at the Coalition for Nonprofit Housing & Economic Development (CNHED); and Gustavo Velasquez, director of the Washington-Area Research Initiative at the Urban Institute.

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