Gentrification is a heated word. It hangs ominously over every conversation on the return of investment and residents to the urban cores of many of our metropolitan areas over the past decades. Ominous because it represents the reverse of the coin of prosperity. The downside. The negative impacts. It’s dark and something vilified. A candidate for mayor of San Francisco in 1999 went so far as to declare “war on any and all gentrification.”
But why is it so often and easily criticized? Gentrification is a scapegoat for numerous processes, some recent and others decades-old, that better deserve the ire of the urban poor and their allies. Indeed, anger towards gentrification itself is often misplaced and obscures these real concerns. Perhaps none is greater than “displacement”. That gentrification causes displacement is commonly believed, yet beyond anecdotal evidence, is it true?