The Gentrification Trigger: Autonomy, Mobility, and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing

Posted: 29 May 2013 Last revised: 6 Jun 2013

Rachel D. Godsil

Seton Hall University - School of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Gentrification connotes a process where often white “outsiders” move into areas in which once attractive properties have deteriorated due to disinvestment. Gentrification creates seemingly positive outcomes, including increases in property values, equity, and a city’s tax base, as well as greater residential racial and economic integration; yet it is typically accompanied by significant opposition. In-place residents fear that they will either be displaced or even if they remain the newcomers will change the culture and practices of the neighborhood. Gentrification then is understood to cause a loss of community and autonomy – losses that have been well recognized in the eminent domain literature.

This article focuses on gentrifying neighborhoods that were abandoned during the government sponsored suburban migration of the 1950s through the 1980s. Racially discriminatory practices of government and private actors often denied Black and Latino families the option either to join the migration to the suburbs or to maintain their homes in city neighborhoods. This article argues that in-place residents of now gentrifying neighborhoods should have access to rental vouchers or low-interest loans to restore the autonomy they were previously denied, providing them with viable, self-determining options to remain or exit the neighborhood. Such a remedy – which is consistent with the Fair Housing Act’s obligation to HUD and its grantees to “affirmatively further fair housing” – has the potential to alter the political terrain of gentrification.

Keywords: gentrification, eminent domain, property, race, segregation

JEL Classification: K11

Suggested Citation

Godsil, Rachel D., The Gentrification Trigger: Autonomy, Mobility, and Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (2013). Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 78, No. 2, 2013; Seton Hall Public Law Research Paper No. 2271670. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2271670

Rachel D. Godsil (Contact Author)

Seton Hall University - School of Law ( email )

One Newark Center
Newark, NJ 07102-5210
United States

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