Race, Displacement, and Fair Housing

The California Housing Partnership Corporation and Urban Displacement Project have received a one-year grant to document the mobility patterns for low-income people of color at the neighborhood level in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.

Our goals for this research are to explore the relationship between these mobility patterns and local rental housing market dynamics; and to determine whether these mobility patterns are perpetuating historic patterns of segregation and unequal access to opportunity for low-income households of color. 

In September 2017, we conducted three webinars with various stakeholders to solicit input on the scope and methodology of the project. Watch the webinar videos here.

Read about our methodology here.

Research Brief on the Consequences of Displacement

In metropolitan regions across the country, residents face constrained, expensive housing markets and rising income inequality. As neighborhoods change and housing demand shifts, landlords are presented with a new set of financial prospects. Displacement and evictions are central components of this changing landscape, altering the geography of race and class across regions. San Mateo County, located about half way between San Francisco and San Jose in the heart of Silicon Valley, is no exception, despite having one of the highest median household incomes in California. Through in-depth phone surveys with households who live in and/or were displaced from San Mateo County communities, this study examines the relationship between displacement and housing costs and quality, commutes, neighborhood location and quality, mental and physical health, and healthcare access.The new research brief, Displacement in San Mateo County: California Consequences for Housing, Neighborhoods, Quality of Life, and Health, provides a window into the consequences of displacement for households in the San Francisco Bay Area, with implications for researchers and policymakers both locally and across the nation.

Developing a new methodology for analyzing potential displacement

In 2008 California passed Senate Bill 375 requiring metropolitan planning organizations (MPO) to develop Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS) as part of their regional transportation planning process. While the implementation of these strategies has the potential for environmental and economic benefits, rising housing costs and changing neighborhood conditions may compel low-income residents and households to move out of transit-oriented neighborhoods. This out-migration is called “displacement.”

Our ARB-funded study examined the relationship between fixed-rail transit neighborhoods and displacement in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. The research modeled patterns of neighborhood change in relation to transit proximity and found that transit proximity is associated with changes in the stability of the surrounding neighborhood, such as increases in housing costs and the loss of low-income households. We find that gentrification and displacement in rail station areas would only be likely to cause an increase in auto usage and regional vehicle miles traveled (VMT) when accompanied by a significant loss of population near transit. The results support the consideration of displacement in the development of SCSs, and the research also explored the possibility of considering displacement in travel demand models used by the LA and San Francisco MPOs and via off-model tools. Finally, we examined the effectiveness of anti-displacement strategies, and the results may be useful for MPOs, local jurisdictions, and communities.

Research Brief on Housing Production and Displacement

Debate over the relative importance of subsidized and market-rate housing production in alleviating the current housing crisis continues to preoccupy policy makers, developers and advocates. This research brief adds to the discussion by providing a nuanced analysis of the relationship between housing production, affordability and displacement in the San Francisco Bay Area, finding that:

  • At the regional level, both market-rate and subsidized housing reduce displacement pressures, but subsidized housing has over double the impact of market-rate units.
  • Market-rate production is associated with higher housing cost burden for low-income households, but lower median rents in subsequent decades.
  • At the local, block group level in San Francisco, neither market-rate nor subsidized housing production has the protective power they do at the regional scale, likely due to the extreme mismatch between demand and supply.

Although more detailed analysis is needed to clarify the complex relationship between development, affordability and displacement at the local scale, this research implies the importance of not only increasing production of subsidized and market-rate housing in California’s coastal communities, but also investing in the preservation of housing affordability and stabilizing vulnerable communities.

Download the Research Brief here.

Executive Summary of the Urban Displacement Project

Read an executive summary of our project's key findings.

Read our article about the Urban Displacement Project and gentrification warning systems in other metros.

Literature Review on Gentrification and Displacement

In 2015, researchers at UC Berkeley and UCLA completed a review of the academic and practitioner literature on gentrification, displacement and its relationship to public and private investments. The review was published in the academic Journal of Planning Literature in 2017, which you can download here.  This review highlights many limitations in the literature and provides detail on the following findings:

  1. Neighborhoods change slowly, but over time are becoming more segregated by income, due in part to macro-level increases in income inequality.
  2. Gentrification results from both flows of capital and people. The extent to which gentrification is linked to racial transition differs across neighborhood contexts.
  3. Commercial gentrification can also transform a neighborhood’s meaning.
  4. New fixed-rail transit has a generally positive effect on both residential and commercial property values, but its impact varies substantially according to context.
  5. Proximity to high quality schools and parks, as well as access to highways, increases home values.
  6. Displacement takes many different forms—direct and indirect, physical or economic, and exclusionary—and may result from either investment or disinvestment.
  7. Despite severe data and analytic challenges in measuring the extent of displacement, most studies agree that gentrification at a minimum leads to exclusionary displacement and may push out some renters as well. 
  8. Previous studies have failed to build a cumulative understanding of displacement because they have utilized different definitions, compared different populations, and adopted a relatively short timeframe; there is not even agreement on what constitutes a significant effect.
  9. Existing studies rarely account or proxy for regional market strength, which undermines their relevance to particular contexts.

Download our full literature review

This literature review has also been published as a working paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco available here and as an academic article in the Journal of Planning Literature available here

Displacement Maps

As part of the Regional Early Warning System for Displacement project funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, UC Berkeley conducted regional data analysis to better understand the nature and drivers of gentrification and displacement, which was validated through 9 neighborhood case studies. From this analysis, and with careful review and input from an advisory committee, we developed 8 neighborhood typologies to help communities better characterize their experience and risks in an effort to raise awareness and stimulate action.

View our online, interactive Bay Area maps

View our online, interactive Los Angeles maps

Previous Work: Susceptibility Report

In 2009, we developed an early warning toolkit for gentrification with funding from the Association of Bay Area Governments.

View our early warning gentrification report

Case studies on gentrification, displacement, and development impact