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Mapping the Presence and Potential of Gentrification in Austin

New research comes at a key moment for the city.

A map of gentrification in Austin, with darker purple and blue representing later stages. (Credit: University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development in the School of Architecture & the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic in the School of Law)

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Gentrification, referring in this case to the displacement of low-income minority households because of rising property values, is local news in Austin.

“Sometimes change can be hard to see, but those who live in the Lanier neighborhood will tell you change is happening,” reports Kalyn Norwood of KVUE-TV news, in a story filed on Monday.

Norwood’s story was pegged to the release of “Uprooted: Residential Displacement in Austin’s Gentrifying Neighborhoods and What Can Be Done About It,” a new report from researchers at the University of Texas. According to KVUE-TV, the report, part of a yearlong study of gentrification, identified 16 neighborhoods where gentrification is happening, and 23 neighborhoods at risk of experiencing gentrification. The Lanier neighborhood was one of the 23 at-risk neighborhoods.

“They’re rebuilding these houses, they’re taking them down to the two-by-fours and just rebuilding them and selling them for big money,” William Kasper, who lives in Lanier neighborhood, told KVUE-TV.

The University of Texas researchers created color-coded maps of their results. The maps showed stages of gentrification as defined by the researchers as well as vulnerability to gentrification, based on a number of factors.

(Credit: University of Texas Center for Sustainable Development in the School of Architecture & the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic in the School of Law)

The research comes at a key moment for the city, which was recently announced as part of the inaugural cohort of All-In Cities Anti-Displacement Network, convened by PolicyLink — as previously covered in Next City. Meanwhile, the city started, then recently stopped a citywide zoning overhaul, citing a poisoned process.

Part of the challenge in addressing gentrification and displacement is finding a productive way to surface the historic role of government — state, federal, and local — in determining where rich and poor, white and non-white, currently live in cities today.

“Many people thought that gentrification was a natural effect of market forces,” Nefertitti Jackmon, a member of the Austin Anti-Displacement Task Force, told Next City earlier this year. The task force is charged with developing a set of recommendations to present to Austin City Council by October.

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Oscar is Next City's senior economic justice correspondent. He previously served as Next City’s editor from 2018-2019, and was a Next City Equitable Cities Fellow from 2015-2016. Since 2011, Oscar has covered community development finance, community banking, impact investing, economic development, housing and more for media outlets such as Shelterforce, B Magazine, Impact Alpha and Fast Company.

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Tags: gentrificationaustin

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