Turning the Corner: Lessons from Five Cities on Displacement Risk in Changing Neighborhoods

Report by Kathryn L.S. Pettit, Mychal Cohen, Diane K. Levy
April 25, 2019

Urban Institute   (NNIP Coordinator)

Launched in January 2016, Turning the Corner: Monitoring Neighborhood Change to Prevent Displacement piloted a research model in five cities to monitor neighborhood change, drive informed government action, and support displacement prevention and inclusive revitalization. The project was motivated by a desire to understand displacement pressures in cities with recovering or moderately strong housing markets.

Three lessons emerged from the sites’ research that have implications for analyses, policy responses, and community organizing around displacement and neighborhood change.

  • The risk of displacement can develop in varied market conditions, and the path it takes can vary as well. Trends in Turning the Corner neighborhoods often differed from those typical in revitalizing areas with hot housing markets.
  • Residents make invaluable contributions to the understanding of changing neighborhood conditions, helping fill gaps and interpret quantitative data. Engaging renters and homeowners diverse in terms of age, race and ethnicity, and neighborhood tenure, helps bring a variety of perspectives to the fore.
  • Community coalitions’ engagement with local government can advance more inclusive neighborhood development. The cases of Buffalo and Milwaukee illustrate how parallel efforts of public agencies and community coalitions shape local policies and plans.

The recommendations based on these lessons present broad principles for communities to work towards inclusive development. First, institutional actors should create opportunities for residents to participate meaningfully in decisions about the future of the neighborhoods where they live. In addition, philanthropy, nonprofits, and local governments should coordinate their displacement mitigation efforts. Lastly, communities need to invest in up-to-date and fine-grained data to monitor neighborhood change and guide engagement and action.

The Turning the Corner project was guided by the Urban Institute’s National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP) and the Federal Reserve-Philanthropy Initiative, a collaboration between the Restoring Prosperity in Older Industrial Cities Working Group of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and several Federal Reserve district banks. Local participating sites included Buffalo, New York; Detroit, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Phoenix, Arizona; and the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul), Minnesota.  For more information, visit NNIP’s Turning the Cornerproject website.