Theses Doctoral

Planning for Equitable Neighborhood Change: A Mixed-Methods Analysis of 80 Cities’ Displacement Mitigation Approaches

Cassola, Marie-Adele

City governments across the United States are struggling to keep housing and services affordable for lower-income households as neighborhood conditions improve in previously disinvested areas. Despite considerable fiscal and political constraints, numerous cities are tackling this challenge through policy tools that protect the stock of low-cost housing and support lower-income residents’ ability to remain in place when reinvestment raises the threat of displacement. Drawing on a framework informed by theories of equity planning, the Just City, and redistributive policy action, this study examines how cities are mitigating displacement in neighborhoods at risk of gentrification and analyzes the conditions that motivate, facilitate, and shape their policy responses. Data were collected through an original survey of housing, planning, and community development officials, a systematic review of policy documents, and semi-structured interviews with city officials and community advocates. Through sequential quantitative and qualitative analyses, I show that although city governments possess and are using diverse tools to create more equitable outcomes in neighborhoods at risk of gentrification, their tendency to delay action until market appreciation is advanced, dependence on market-based tools amid fiscal constraint, and need to balance neighborhood-based and city-wide goals weaken their capacity to tackle displacement. This study concludes that proactive approaches that address reinvestment and long-term affordability concurrently would minimize the tensions associated with the timing, form, and scale of intervention. Cities’ demonstrated responsiveness to community organizing suggests one key channel through which such a policy shift could be activated.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Freeman, Lance
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 14, 2018