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In the Past 40 Years, 105 City Neighborhoods Gentrified; 2,000 Slipped Further Into Poverty

America’s Move Toward Concentrated Poverty

(Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

According to a new report that looked at how 51 U.S. cities changed from 1970 to 2010, while 105 census tracts (representing around 4,000 people each) have been rapidly reshaped by gentrification, nearly 2,000 slipped even further into poverty, says the Guardian.

While gentrification is endlessly argued over in the media, the reality is that, while sometimes richer people do take over a low-income neighborhood, the predominant trend is slightly-less-poor people leaving downsliding neighborhoods. As these people move to nicer neighborhoods, the people who are left make up an even poorer population. With money flowing out, not in, landlords let buildings slip in to disrepair, making those homes less desirable to richer tenants.

“Because the slow decline is more common and less visible, it is seldom remarked upon, while gentrification, when it happens – which is both unusual and dramatic – is far more evident change,” says the Guardian, quoting the report.

In the report, economist Joe Cortright writes that the major underlying narrative for America's urban poor is not gentrified replacement. It's persistent or expanding poverty.

Three-quarters of 1970 high-poverty urban neighborhoods in the U.S. are still poor today. ...[T]hree times as many urban neighborhoods have poverty rates exceeding 30 percent as was true in 1970 and the number of poor people living in these neighborhoods has doubled.

The result of these trends is that the poor in the nation’s metropolitan areas are increasingly segregated into neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.

About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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