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The Overwhelming Persistence of Neighborhood Poverty - CityLab

Among urban policy-focused academics, few issues today are as distressing and contentious as gentrification. Much of the focus in public debate has been on the newly upscale neighborhoods in major U.S. cities, like New York’s Chelsea, East Village, or Williamsburg; San Francisco’s Portero Hill and Mission District; Chicago’s Wicker Park; or Boston’s South End.

  • But for all of this ferment, urban poverty remains deep and concentrated. Just how often do high-poverty neighborhoods really transform, with dramatic reductions in poverty rates? The answer will be essential for understanding who benefits from neighborhood change and who is left behind.
  • And according to a new study from Joseph Cortright of the economic consulting firm Impresa and Portland State doctoral student Dillon Mahmoudi, the answer is very rarely.
for every single gentrified neighborhood, 12 once-stable neighborhoods have slipped into concentrated disadvantage. The authors write:
“Far more common than gentrification—and far less commented upon—is the overwhelming persistence of high poverty in those neighborhoods where it is established, the steady decay in population that chronic high poverty neighborhoods experience, and the steady and widespread transformation of formerly low poverty neighborhoods into high poverty areas.”
  • This finding is in line with a recent study from the Cleveland Fed, which found that gentrification (measured as substantial increases in housing values) was limited to a relatively small group of superstar cities like Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Boston.
  • As Harvard’s Robert Sampson and NYU’s Patrick Sharkey have pointed out, concentrated poverty – with people stuck in disadvantaged neighborhoods for generations – remains a constant of our cities. Such chronic and entrenched poverty can have long-lasting effects on the life chances of those who live there. As classes continue to segment and segregate away from one another, our cities risk becoming a patchwork of concentrated disadvantage juxtaposed with concentrated advantage.




Sources / More info: The Overwhelming Persistence of Neighborhood Poverty - CityLab,


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