Redevelopment of poor neighborhoods nationwide is displacing low-income people of all colors and attracting affluent people. This is easily done by razing low-income housing and replacing them with expensive versions, pricing the poor out of the neighborhood. The new residents have college degrees. The new homes they buy have a sharp increase in value over homes that had been there before. This process of replacing the poor with the rich in a neighborhood is called gentrification.
Twenty percent of the eligible census tracts in Pittsburgh were gentrified between 2000 and 2013. Washington, D.C. took first place at 40 percent. The national average was nine percent. A recent study performed by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania revealed that Pittsburgh is now the eighth-most gentrified city in America.
At number eight, the faces in Pittsburgh are changing as fast as they are in fast-growing cities like Seattle and Portland, Oregon. The thing is, Pittsburgh is not experiencing an economic boom like those cities are. Additionally, the neighborhoods that get bulldozed down don’t make sense to most people. Those areas include Polish Hill, downtown, Garfield, Bloomfield, Lawrenceville, and parts of Mount Washington and North Side. Blacks were displaced in St. Clair, the Mexican War Streets in North Side, and downtown.
According to the study, East Liberty did not experience gentrification, even though home prices had gone down between 2000 and 2010. The study also did not include black displacement in East Liberty. The loss thereof 600 African Americans during those ten years was considered insignificant when qualifying for displacement by NCRC metrics.
More neighborhoods are expected to qualify for gentrification in the future, according to Jason Richardson, who was one of the study’s authors. Some people like the University of Pittsburgh economist Chris Briem will document trends in East Liberty through the coming years, which NCRC is studying.
St. Clair residents were displaced in 2010 by the razing of the public housing they’d lived in. That does not concern people, but the displacement of low-income people in the city who had worked service jobs – waiters and waitresses, bartenders, retail clerks, and so on – raises some eyebrows. Richardson calls this phenomenon “a classic Downtown Rustbelt story.”