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How Ronald Reagan Halted the Early Anti-Gentrification Movement

An excerpt from Newcomers, a new book by Matthew L. Schuerman, documents the early history of the anti-gentrification and back-to-the-city movements.
A street corner in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. If trends continue, Harlem will soon cease to be a majority-black neighborhood.
A street corner in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. If trends continue, Harlem will soon cease to be a majority-black neighborhood.Ed Bailey/AP

The term gentrification, as many urbanphiles know, was coined in 1964 by sociologist Ruth Glass to describe the influx of professionals into working-class areas of London. It is less well known that the backlash to gentrification in the United States began just a decade later.

In the mid-1970s, while the back-to-the-city spirit was still young, an early anti-gentrification counter-movement emerged. National organizations issued position papers; a Senate committee held hearings; HUD even came up with an official policy statement outlining limited interventions. And then, poof! HUD’s efforts all disappeared, until just a few years ago.