Gentrification is the hottest of hot-button urban issues. Many activists and critics see it as essentially a process by which more affluent and educated white newcomers displace poorer, working-class black residents. But those who have studied the subject closely, like Columbia University urban planner Lance Freeman, believe that the issue of displacement is more myth than reality. In fact, Freeman’s detailed empirical research has found that the probability of a family being displaced by gentrification in New York City was a mere 1.3 percent.
Now a recent study by Isaac William Martin and Kevin Beck in Urban Affairs Review helps deepen our understanding of the issue of displacement. It’s the first study I’ve come across that separates out the effects of gentrification on renters versus homeowners. Previous research, including Freeman’s landmark research, grouped renters and owners together.