Strategies for Economic Diversity in Gentrifying Areas

Strategies for Economic Diversity in Gentrifying Areas
Luke Herrine, Jessica Yager, Nadia Mian
New York University Furman Center
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As local attention turns to rising challenges with housing affordability and gentrification, cities can pursue several strategies “to supplement policies that encourage new development with those that promote preservation of affordable stock and protections for lower-income households,” according to a report published by New York University’s Furman Center. Researchers catalogue multiple approaches for achieving two goals: “creating and preserving affordable housing in gentrifying areas” and “assisting tenants at risk of displacement.” The authors put forward tools to use city-owned land, other city resources, and market interventions strategically to create and preserve affordable housing. Cities can also improve their ability to manage the relationship between landlords and tenants and help low-income households relocate to protect them from gentrification. The authors discuss the pros and cons of the various strategies, but do not empirically evaluate their effectiveness.

Key findings:

  • City governments can preserve the affordability of publicly owned land, which is made available for development through ground leases, use restrictions, and community land trusts.
  • Cities can use housing subsidies and tax breaks in areas that are beginning to gentrify to “lock in affordability.”
  • Inclusionary zoning and linkage fees can create and preserve affordable housing through mandatory and voluntary programs that engage developers in strong markets.
  • The pressures that displace current residents can be mitigated by regulating rents, limiting causes for evictions, enacting laws that protect tenants from harassment, providing tenants information about their rights; and strengthening the enforcement of tenants’ rights.
  • Local policies and resources, such as priority housing access, relocation assistance, and unified tenant screening programs, can assist at-risk tenants who are displaced in redeveloping areas.