Managing Neighborhood Change A Framework for Sustainable and Equitable Revitalization


U.S. National Housing Institute, 2008.  This publication offers CDCs, local officials, and other stakeholders, including local institutional, business, and community leaders, a new way to look at how they can manage neighborhood change in order to bring about sustainable and equitable revitalization. It is based on a simple idea: The most powerful lever for neighborhood change is change in the demand for housing in the neighborhood. Change in the residential real estate market can lead to a stronger, healthier neighborhood. At the same time, market change can take problematic forms, leading to undesirable outcomes. It can be driven by speculation, triggering little or no improvement in the community’s quality of life, or it can disrupt established communities, displacing long-time low- and moderate-income residents.

Higher house prices without improvement to neighborhood vitality and quality of life is neither
positive nor sustainable, while change that leads to displacement of an area’s lower-income residents is not equitable. This proposition defines the central question for all those struggling with the task of revitalizing urban neighborhoods: how to build both a stronger housing market and a healthier neighborhood while ensuring that the community’s lower-income residents benefit from the neighborhood’s revitalization?

Ghettos in Canada’s cities? Racial segregation, ethnic enclaves and poverty concentration in Canadian urban areas

Recent literature suggests a growing relationship between the clustering of certain visible minority groups in urban neighbourhoods and the spatial concentration of poverty in Canadian cities, raising the spectre of ghettoization. This paper examines whether urban ghettos along the U.S. model are forming in Canadian cities, using census data for 1991 and 2001 and borrowing a neighbourhood classification system specifically designed for comparing neighbourhoods in other countries to the
U.S. situation. Ecological analysis is then performed in order to compare the importance of minority concentration, neighbourhood classification and housing stock attributes in improving our understanding of the spatial patterning of low-income populations in Canadian cities in 2001. The findings suggest that ghettoization along U.S. lines is not a factor in Canadian cities and that a high degree of racial concentration is not necessarily associated with greater neighbourhood poverty. On the other hand, the concentration of apartment housing, of visible minorities in general, and of a high level of racial diversity in particular, do help in accounting for the neighbourhood patterning of low income. The authors suggest that these findings result as much from growing income inequality within as between each visible minority group. This increases the odds of poor visible minorities of each group ending up in the lowest-cost, least-desirable neighbourhoods from which they cannot afford to escape (including social housing in the inner suburbs). By contrast, wealthier members of minority groups are more mobile and able to self-select into higher-status ‘ethnic communities’. This research thus reinforces pleas for a more nuanced interpretation of segregation, ghettoization and neighbourhood dynamics.

Understanding Neighbourhood Dynamics: A Review of the Contributions of William G. Grigsby

This paper summarises William G. Grigsby’ s contribution to our understanding of neighbourhood change. We discuss seven contributions among Grigsby’ s most-lasting. First, he staked out the boundaries of the still-nascent field very early in his career. Secondly, he situated the subject within the broader framework of metropolitan housing market dynamics. Thirdly, he developed a theoretical framework for investig ating the subject that featured the analysis of housing sub-markets, the market process of neighbourhood succession, and residential segregation. Fourthly, he identified the economic, social, institutional and demographic forces that create neighbourhood change. Fifthly, he linked neighbourhood decline and deteriora tion to the spatial concentration of poverty. Sixthly, he underscore d the significance of this understanding for formulating public policies to deal with deteriora ted neighbourhoods. And seventhly, he provided a remarkably complete and robust framework for analysing neighbourhood change. This last-mentioned contribution is the culmination of his lifetime work and will prove perhaps to be his most significant. It provides a road map to future research on neighbourhood dynamics that others may wish to follow.


The Timing, Patterning, and Forms of Gentrification and Neighbourhood Change in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, 1961 to 2001

Research Paper 211, May 2008, viii, 109 pp.  This report presents a method for determining the timing, patterning, and forms of gentrification and residential neighbourhood upgrading between the 1960s and 2001 in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, using census data. The resulting maps show a clear geography of gentrification in each city, whereby the process starts in a few core areas and moves outwards into adjacent neighbourhoods, as well as a “gentrification frontier” in each city, where gentrification is likely to occur in future. The authors also identify the main forms of gentrification (deconversion of older housing stock, new construction, and the conversion of non-residential buildings to housing) and the way in which these forms combine to produce gentrified neighbourhoods in each city. They note that although new construction presents an opportunity to mitigate the problems caused by gentrification, this opportunity has not been seized. If present trends continue, the inner cities of Canada’s three largest cities will become the preserve of elites, while low-income households are forced to occupy less accessible fringe locations, a situation that contributes to social exclusion

Neighbourhood Gentrification and Upgrading in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver

Research Bulletin 43, September 2008. In this study of neighbourhood change, the researchers traced the attributes of a consistent sample of 1,130 census tracts in the central cities of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver between 1961 and 2001. For each tract in each decade, the authors looked at conversion from rental to owner-occupation; changes in social status; changes in relative land values and housing affordability; changes in income; and changes in the average monthly rent. They found that gentrification has affected more than 36 percent of prewar inner-city neighbourhoods, where affordable housing has traditionally been located. Gentrification appeared more prevalent in Vancouver, followed by Toronto, and then Montreal. The results suggest the continuing displacement of low-income households from the inner cities.


Taking the Pulse: Gauging Neighbourhood Change in Toronto’s Downtown West End

Research Paper 204, May 2005, viii, 68 pp. The authors of this paper administered and analyzed a household survey to provide St. Christopher House (SCH) with a better understanding of the issues facing the residents they serve. This research was designed to address three main questions: How do the residents perceive the changes occurring within the neighbourhood? How are these changes affecting their way of life in terms of housing, commercial activity, new residents, and safety? And what can be done to respond to these perceived changes? This research allowed residents to voice their concerns and views about neighbourhood changes. These concerns and views will be translated into policy and planning recommendations for the city, as well as for SCH, the main social service provider in Toronto’s West End.


Liberty Village: The Makeover of Toronto’s King and Dufferin Area

Research Bulletin 32, January 2007, 7 pages. This short history of one of the neighbourhoods in west-central Toronto describes the stages of transformation of a formerly industrial area. The area first became a distinctive and diverse artists’ community on the margin of Toronto’s mainstream culture, but has more recently become an increasingly homogenized space that has been made safe, clean, and attractive for capital investment and new residents. The author argues that the gentrification of the area was municipally managed, as Toronto’s economic development corporation, in combination with Toronto Artscape, worked to attract investment to the area.