Transportation Advantages Can Allow Redevelopment without Gentrification in Shrinking Cities

Transportation Advantages Can Allow Redevelopment without Gentrification in Shrinking Cities
J. Rosie Tighe, Joanna P. Ganning
Housing Policy Debate
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Redevelopment can occur without causing gentrification in shrinking cities, according to J. Rosie Tighe and Joanna P. Ganning in Housing Policy Debate. Focusing on cities that lost at least 17 percent of their population, the authors examined 81 shrinking cities and compared affordability challenges in redeveloping, declining, and stable neighborhoods based on the housing-only approach and the housing-plus-transportation approach. The housing-only approach considers a neighborhood affordable if households pay 30 percent or less of their income on housing costs, but the housing-plus-transportation approach classifies a neighborhood as affordable if households pay 45 percent of their income or less on housing and transportation costs combined. Using a newly developed Redevelopment Index, which incorporates population change (2000–10) and employment change (2002–10) that occurred in neighborhoods within the sample of cities, the authors find that advantages in transportation can improve the affordability of certain neighborhoods when using the housing-plus-transportation approach. This allows the authors to consider housing and transportation policy responses to these findings.

Key findings:

  • Advantages in transportation compensate for housing affordability challenges in redeveloping neighborhoods. By using the housing-plus-transportation approach in shrinking cities, the authors do not find evidence that redevelopment causes gentrification in shrinking cities.
  • Declining neighborhoods experience the most severe affordability challenges, and nearly the entire affordability gap is because of unaffordable transportation costs.
  • Public policy intended to address affordability should expand its scope from only housing to include transportation in shrinking cities.