Gentrification Learn how to correctly analyse this topic.
10 min Read Time | September 5th 2022
This topic focuses solely on a company's impact from gentrifying an area resulting in the displacement of people. This is primarily done through higher-income residents moving into an area due to real estate companies' developments.
In your analysis, it is essential to assess where the gentrification has occurred (areas) and how people have been impacted. The locations should be on the scale of towns and neighbourhoods.
There needs to be a strong link between the real estate company and gentrification in the area. The topic is not relevant to industrial developments.
What is it?
Gentrification refers to development changes in a historically disinvested neighborhood. This occurs when wealthier individuals move into an area and begin to force the development of these areas, improved housing, better recreational facilities, creation of parks, etc.
However, although this does bring investment into these areas, it also forces the current residents to relocate due to the high cost of living.
It could also impact businesses; small and medium-sized community-run businesses cannot cope with the influx of mass organisations. For example, a small local coffee shop versus Starbucks or Seattle Coffee.
Gentrification can therefore lead to unaffordable housing, loss of livelihood, mental health issues, etc., which creates a displacement of low-income people, or people of colour and minority-owned businesses.
Real estate has more of a direct impact, transforming neighbourhoods through residential areas and commercial properties (so businesses but through the real estate industry).
Real estate companies can drive gentrification through several practices. They can "upsell" properties, persuading buyers to spend more than intended, giving the impression that the area is in demand and driving up subsequent prices. Further, they can accelerate the process in already gentrifying neighbourhoods by buying up properties for cheaper just before the value increases dramatically.
General Impact assessment
The introduction should build a strong case by evaluating the general impacts of gentrification and, subsequently, displacement on societies. There are specific and well-documented incidents that can be used as a foundation for the analysis.
It is important to showcase all the impacts of gentrification, displacement, loss of livelihood, and others.
The introduction should also contextualise the rest of the analysis; it should explain why certain actions that result in gentrification are relevant and why the company's actions matter in this location. It can also be used to give specific geographical context - the state and effects of gentrification in the locations that you will be looking at.
The core of the note should introduce the company and provide the following information:
The presence of the company in specific neighbourhoods
Number of projects/developments by the company in neighbourhoods at risk of gentrification
How many people are affected
Pricing trends in the neighbourhoods at risk (rent, living costs, mortgages, etc.)
The % of the portfolio that is in gentrified neighbourhoods
The broader social impacts caused and how long-lasting and profound they are
It is important to consider that some areas will be more expensive, for example, city centres; London, Melbourne or New York. Although there is historical gentrification, we cannot attribute the impact to one company just because it set up its business in a big city that, no matter what, will be more expensive.
Not all people leave historically gentrified areas because of real estate operations. Some people may leave due to increasing taxes in the area, for a different preferred location, and a multitude of other reasons.
Always ensure that the link between the company's presence and gentrification is strong, clear, and substantiated. It's best if there is documented evidence of displacements due to the rising costs of the neighbourhood and the company's involvement. It is important to look at the company as a whole and all of its projects and see if its business model is engineered for gentrification.
Does the company have recent purchases or development projects planned for low-income areas? How have real estate investments impacted the residential community in the company's business areas?
The main focus should include an overview of the changes in prices and demographics of the neighbourhoods in which they operate over the years (the last decade or so, depending on how long the company has been developing there). This gives an idea of the impact the company has beyond their own properties and how it influences the neighbourhood on the whole.
Issue - A common issue with analyses is that there is not a strong enough link between gentrification and the company. For instance, if a company owns two properties in a big city, it is so small that it makes it irrelevant.
Tips - Perhaps it would be useful to add some historical context of the company and the cities. Taking a city like Sydney, which is considered highly gentrified, consider:
- when did this phenomenon start?
- how many people were pushed out?
- how long the company has had a presence there?
- disclose the market share or the number of real estate companies present at that time (imagine there are 10, we can assume they have an equal impact, but if there are 3 then they have a strong role in gentrification) in the city to strengthen the argument to show the current situation.
Make sure to describe the scale of the impact by taking into account:
6.1 The breadth of the impact
Is the impact local, national, or global?
How many people are concerned? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands?
6.2 The depth of the impact
Is the life of people concerned deeply affected, or does the issue just marginally impact them?
Are the changes brought by the issue profoundly changing society or the planet?
6.2 The persistence of the impact
How long would the impact described last for? Months? Years? Decades?
How reversible is the impact described in the impact analysis? Can it be easily stopped/extended?
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