Beyond Gentrification: Strategies for Guiding the Conversation and Redirecting the Outcomes of Community Transition

Stephanie Brown

W14-12: Gentrification has become the sticking point for many urban revitalization efforts – the specter which hangs over the efforts of community organizations, the rallying point for apprehensive community members, and the dubious label for new residents. Gentrification, or the perception thereof, has been a source of conflict, confusion, and seemingly competing value systems for transitioning communities. It pits community members against each other and generates dissension amongst leadership. Yet for a word which means so much, too often it is a process poorly defined and poorly understood.

In order to manage this type of community transition well, community organizations and leaders must be able to identify and understand the forces at work and develop a new level of engagement with the broader transition process. A complex and contradictory set of costs and benefits for the community are subsumed under the term “gentrification.” This paper sets out to provide a framework for understanding those costs and benefits and the processes that produce them. Building on this framework, the paper then provides recommendations for how community leaders in the public and private sectors can begin to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs. In particular, it seeks to:  

  • Understand challenges to partnerships in mixed-income, multi-cultural communities.
  • Identify strategies to build community and forge alliances between disparate populations in distressed neighborhoods experiencing an influx of higher-income residents.
  • Develop replicable guidelines for neighborhoods approaching or undergoing such a period of transition.