The National Academies

NCHRP 08-160 [Active]

Guide to Identify and Mitigate the Negative Effects of Gentrification Caused by Transportation Investment

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Staff Responsibility: Jennifer L. Weeks
Research Agency: Urban Institute
Principal Investigator: Yonah Freemark
Effective Date: 1/30/2023
Completion Date: 7/29/2026

Gentrification generally refers to land use and transportation redevelopment initiatives in older, often under-resourced communities. The effects of gentrification are positive and negative. The positive effects include the influx of new capital, infrastructure, and business that contribute to community quality of life, economic vitality, and aesthetics. However, gentrification often contributes to increased property values and rents that can force less-resourced (often lower income and minority) businesses and residents to leave. Not only do these factors force residents and businesses to find new homes and markets, they reduce community diversity and change its character.  
State departments of transportation (DOTs) and other transportation agencies seek to understand the specific role transportation investment plays in contributing to the negative impacts of gentrification. Investments are made with the expectation that they will overwhelmingly benefit the communities, often by providing needed mobility and accessibility to jobs, goods, and services in communities undergoing public and private sector reinvestment. By understanding the conditions under which gentrification can cause residential and business displacements, agencies can enact policies and strategies to avoid or mitigate these impacts.
Research is needed to examine and define the specific role of transportation investment in contributing to the negative effects of gentrification and the investment decision-making processes that lead to them. Specifically, this research should identify strategies, policies, data, and other information that state DOTs can use to predict, avoid, or mitigate potential displacement and the other adverse impacts of gentrification on vulnerable communities, ideally while providing needed improvements to mobility and accessibility.
The objective of this research is to develop a guide and supportive resources that provide practical instruction on how to predict, avoid, and mitigate the negative gentrification effects of transportation investment. Both quantitative and qualitative techniques and methods are sought. At a minimum the research shall:
  • Define gentrification and identify specific gentrification outcomes agencies should seek to avoid or mitigate in investment decision-making processes;  
  • Discuss the relationship of land use and transportation investments in community revitalization initiatives and the factors that produce negative gentrification impacts to lower income and minority residents in particular; 
  • Delineate the specific role of transportation in gentrification outcomes. In particular, the research should identify if certain types of transportation investments are more or less likely than others to lead to these unintended outcomes;
  • Identify proactive strategies and practices for predicting and managing gentrification outcomes when investing in transportation, including efforts to partner with other investors and members of the community; and
  • Include specific “real-world” demonstrations of the application of methods, tools, and techniques for predicting, avoiding, and mitigating the negative effects of gentrification.
The resulting guide should identify and provide instructive guidance on the design and application of appropriate policies, methods, tools, and other means for avoiding and mitigating the negative impacts of gentrification contributed by transportation investments. 
As noted in the objective, the final deliverable of the research is a guide that will contain, and/ or be supplemented with the following as standalone resources:
1.  A table or matrix that summarizes the appropriate use and application of practices identified in this research, including identifying agencies or situations in which they have been applied in a real-world setting.
2. One or more communication tools, as budget permits, to share the information and practical recommendations generated by this research with executives, decision-makers, and members of the public. These could include fact sheets, brochures, videos, PowerPoint presentations, training modules, webinars, or other media. 
3. An implementation plan that identifies specific strategies and opportunities for sharing and encouraging the use of the research products by state DOTs and other transportation agencies.

STATUS:  Project work initiated on January 30, 2023

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