July 20, 2019

Gentrifying Beverly Hills

“On April 30, Cheryl Davila and Ben Bartlett told their colleagues on the Berkeley City Council that the city should draft “rules and regulations to halt the loss of People of Color including the African Americans” and develop a “right of return” for Berkeley residents of color who have been displaced but would like to come back.

In D.C., which lost its black majority at the start of the decade, this population change has sometimes been derided in the black community as “the Plan.” Elsewhere, too, in neighborhoods like Raleigh, North Carolina’s South Park; Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy; and Charleston, South Carolina’s North Central, it can feel as if the shift happened by design: Decades after the devastations of redlining and urban renewal, money is pouring back in, and longtime black residents are leaving—pushed by high rents, or pulled by the prospect of selling their homes for retirement security. Two-thirds black in the 1970s, Charleston is now two-thirds white, a stark example of what we’ve come to call gentrification.

The arrival of white residents—typically highly educated professionals whose incomes dwarf those of their new neighbors—has diversified about 1,400 U.S. census tracts since 2000, according to an investigation published last week by the New York Times. A separate study, published in March by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, found that 1,049 census tracts had gentrified in that time (based on increases in home values, educational attainment, and income), and 232 of those tracts, or 22 percent, had recorded significant displacement of black or Latino residents. A third study, published in April by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, finds wider evidence still of low-income displacement in economically expanding neighborhoods.”

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