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?

Theories of Neighborhood Change: Implications for Community Development Policy and Practice


In order to fully grasp the history of urban community development and its implications for urban planning and policy, it is important to first understand the dynamics of neighborhood change. Why do neighborhoods decline, improve, or remain stable over time? Following the taxonomy of Temkin and Rohe (1996), this paper surveys three major schools of thought with regard to theoretical understanding of how and why neighborhoods change – ecological, subcultural, and political economy – reflecting on their implications for neighborhood development policy.

Does Gentrification Help or Harm Urban Neighbourhoods? An Assessment of the Evidence-Base in the Context of the New Urban Agenda

There has been a renewed interest in ways of encouraging the middle classes back to the cities that many have left. Gentrification describes an interest in working class and cheaper neighbourhoods by middle class and professional households. The image of trendy Islington has done much to aid the greater currency of the term but gives us some idea of the outcome if little idea of the social costs involved. Recent research for the ESRC Centre for Neighbourhood Research sought to evaluate the relative value of gentrification as a possible route towards an urban renaissance by reviewing all empirical research on the topic for the last thirty years. The review covered more than a hundred pieces of research, predominantly from North America and the UK.

New Urban Divides: How Economic, Social, and Demographic Trends are Creating New Sources of Urban Difference in Canada

Research Bulletin 33, February 2007, 7 pages.  More than 80 percent of Canadians live in urban areas, occupying 5 percent of the nation’s land surface. Cities are now redefining and reshaping Canada. However, change is uneven within the country’s urban system, and the growth rates and characteristics of its member cities also vary widely. These trends in turn are creating new forms of difference or new divides among cities and regions, in economic, social, and political terms and at different spatial scales. This research bulletin surveys the trends affecting Canada’s cities and towns and the potential policy implications of the emerging urban divides among urban areas.


The Changing Economy of Urban Neighbourhoods: An Exploration of Place of Work Data for the Greater Toronto Region

Research Paper 219, December 2009, vi, 44 pp.  This paper explores Statistics Canada’s recently released place-of-work employment data at the census tract level for the combined metropolitan areas of Oshawa, Toronto and Hamilton. The maps show the spatial implications of the sectoral shifts of the last 30 years, as jobs in manufacturing have disappeared or relocated, while jobs in financial and business services have grown rapidly. This latter growth has reinforced downtown concentration, and created a new type of work environment in the outer suburbs: a mix of office towers, industrial parks, and power centres linked by freeways.

Urban Growth and Decline in Canada, 1971-2001: Explanations and Implications

Research Paper 201, February 2004, x, 43 pp.  This paper further explores some of the issues raised in an earlier research paper by the same authors (“The Canadian Urban System, 1971-2001: Responses to a Changing World,” 2003) concerning urban growth. The research draws on the findings of the 2001 Census of Canada and comparable data for 1971 to investigate trends over the past three decades. After describing the location and amount of urban growth, the paper examines the correlations between growth and other urban characteristics and between growth and changes in those characteristics. In particular, the authors consider the question of whether cities are becoming more alike or more specialized in some ways. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of continued variability in the rates of urban growth and decline.


The Canadian Urban System, 1971 – 2001: Responses to a Changing World

Research Paper 200, July 2003, viii, 71 pp.  Canada is now overwhelmingly an urban nation. More than 80% of Canadians now live in urban areas and over 60% in the larger metropolitan regions. As those cities change, so too does the nation. In recent decades, Canadian cities and the entire urban system have undergone a transformation. As the factors driving change have evolved, so must our ideas evolve about how the urban system is organized. Drawing on research on urban Canada over the last thirty years, this paper provides an overview of change in the Canadian urban system for the period from 1971 to 2001. Particular attention is paid to the importance of changes in the national environment – in the economy, the demography, and the public sector – and to shifts in the global environment that have in combination reshaped the urban system. In future, growth is likely to become more uneven, with further concentration in a few large metropolitan regions and with much of the rest of the country in relative decline. The direction of evolution of the urban system is likely to become more dependent on forces emanating from outside the country.