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News August 15, 2016

Interesting Publication on Preserving Housing Affordability in Changing Neighborhoods

Back in May, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia hosted a conference titled “Gentrification and Neighborhood Change.” Other sponsors of the event were the NYU Furman Center, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and HUD. There were several pieces of research presented on topics related to gentrification. (Conference website:

One piece of work stood out: Jeff Lubell’s (Abt Associates) “Preserving and Expanding Affordability in Neighborhoods Experiencing Rising Rents and Property Values.” [ ] This paper is a nice review of tools available to enhance the opportunity of low- and mod-income people to continue living in areas as they appreciate and/or to create additional housing opportunities in changing areas.

The author reviews and categorized six types of tools which may align with work you’re already undertaking or contemplating: (1) Preservation of affordability; (2) Protection from displacement; (3) Inclusion of various income levels in new housing being created; (4) Generating revenue from development that can be used in furtherance of an affordable housing stock; (5) Incentives to create affordable housing; (6) Strategic acquisition of property for the creation of affordable housing.

Lubell suggests that places likely need to employ multiple activities to reach the goal of affordable housing in opportune areas. This thoughtful and accessible piece of work provides a framework to think about your city’s circumstances.

Key to your success in applying these policy options is having timely, small scale assessments of how your markets are changing to inform the most effective mix of tools in the right places and at the right time.

Do you observe signs of gentrification in your community? Do you find it is widespread or limited to a few places? What tools have you used to protect and provide for affordability as communities change?

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