Directly Address Displacement


Enable people to stay in their communities, return if displaced, and
adapt to new environments if already displaced.

"Narratives of Displacement" Mural, the Mission, San Francisco (photo by authors)

Displacement pressures stemming from gentrification can manifest themselves in several forms. Landlords respond to increased housing demand, and either increase rents upon the expiration of a lease or sell their property to developers who intend to demolish the existing structure for a higher-density development. In both cases, renters have little protection and face displacement. Exclusionary displacement is a danger of gentrification, too. In this scenario, a vulnerable resident who experiences a residential disruption of any kind now has a harder time finding somewhere affordable to live in a gentrifying neighborhood.

Existing literature and our own research have shown that displacement weakens the social networks upon which low income residents often rely to fulfill their basic needs. Additionally, displacement negatively affects local businesses, since employees are displaced to areas where greater commute times and transit costs lead to loss of employment. Furthermore, high rates of displacement in one area places pressures on another. Neighborhoods that receive displaced renters must contend with increased demand for social services and increased competition for a limited stock of affordable housing.

The policies associated with this goal have varying efficacy depending on the stage of gentrification. If most vulnerable residents have not yet been displaced, then the goal is to help people stay in their neighborhoods and avoid bearing the negative social, economic, and psychological outcomes of  displacement. If vulnerable residents were recently displaced, the goal is to enable their return to their neighborhood and reconnection with their previously established social networks.

Policy Innovations

To achieve this goal, we propose  one-to-one replacement of all occupied units demolished for new housing, requiring community preference for new affordable housing built, and a local voucher system to formalize informal housing arrangements for temporary housing. Click below to learn more about each policy.

Policy Inspirations

Several of our case-study cities have already implemented policies that help increase the power of neighbors to keep friends and family in their communities. We believe that these policies serve as a baseline for what cities should be doing to combat inequitable development.

Several cities have policies allowing for the construction and existence of Accessory Dwelling Units and Detached Accessory Dwelling Units, such as Los Angeles. When California enacted laws that made ADUs and DADUs easier to build by eliminating parking requirements and easing utility hookup fees, Los Angeles developed a pilot program that would streamline the approvals process, provide technical assistance to homeowners, and even financing options. While it is too early to assess the impact of the program, the city is optimistic that it could have an impact on homelessness because it allows for a higher density of residential units for renters and homeowners where there is an under-supply of housing and a high amount of crowding.

Designed for: Neighborhoods in Middle-Stage Gentrification​

Neighborhood Hallmarks: growing rapidly, lots of new construction, increasing prices, many original residents but lost many residents as well

This goal requires that neighborhoods harness new construction to keep vulnerable residents in place as displacement pressures arise. It is also designed to help those who have already been displaced to return to their neighborhoods if they choose.