Thursday, May 19, 2016

Urban Displacement in San Francisco

The most noticeable effect of gentrification is the displacement of the working classes. This shift can take place in various forms, but occurs mainly based on the housing situation. With the increase in urban wealth, property value increase therefore causing strain to the working class in regards to rent. In cases where movements occur voluntarily, these are usually due to an effect of rejection by the state of degradation of the neighborhoods, by the payment of incentives in exchange for their abandonment to renters with armored contracts or the sale of the property. Once this displacement occurs, the neighborhoods are revalued, are renovated and are often sold to individuals of a higher income. A prime example of this would be the city of San Francisco. It was concluded by scholars in UC Berkeley that in 2013, 48% of census tracts that were analyzed and more than 53% of low-income households lived in neighborhoods were at risk of or already experiencing displacement and gentrification pressures (Zuk, 2015). Neighborhoods with rail stations, historic housing stock, and rising housing prices were especially at risk of losing low-income households. Low income neighborhoods were not the only ones experiencing displacement pressures – many higher income neighborhoods that still house low income households were also rapidly losing low income population (Zuk, 2015).

Figure 1. Median hold income in 1990

Figure 2. Median household income in 2000

                                                         Figure 3. Median household income in 2013.

 In addition to the displacement and land revaluation other common processes such as reduced occupancy rates of housing (the number of people per household) and the population density of the neighborhood or perceived changes from the affected area. Also, if in the neighborhood predominated the rent will be a progressive transformation of the mode of occupation in rent for the property occupancy. The number of tracts at risk of displacement are 123% higher than the numbers already experiencing them, indicating that the transformation of the Bay Area will continue to accelerate.

Zuk, Miriam. 2015. "Gentrification, Displacement and the Role of Public Investment,"            (Berkeley:University of California)


  1. I've read about similar cases like this before, for example in New York and Washington DC. Does this article talk about the effects it has one minority growth in certain areas of the city and also effects on the new socioeconomic statuses of those who are forced to move?

  2. Do you think there is any correlation with the specific history of the city itself, in terms of gentrification? For example, if the city has a history of being involved in civil rights movements is there less of a chance of it being gentrified?

  3. Similarly, Austin, TX (my hometown) is undergoing increasing amounts of gentrification. Though Austin has been a historically segregated city, as it has gained a reputation for being a "cool" place to live, it seems to have become increasingly populated by white/upper-middle class people; what causes these shifts?