“This feeling that change was happening to them and that they were not present when important decisions were being made about their neighborhoods was a common theme in our neighborhood cluster interviews.”
In the final section of the gentrification report, we examined the work of 10 Twin Cities community-based organizations. While not an exhaustive or even representative sample of groups working on gentrification issues in the region, the variety and extent of their activities allow for a broad understanding of how community activists are attempting to forestall and/or manage the neighborhood changes that lead to displacement. The work of these organizations expands the scope of what can be considered anti-gentrification work. The policy toolkits that are frequently offered focus primarily on a set of public policies related to affordable housing preservation and development and/or on tenants’ rights. These 10 organizations and their strategies suggest that anti-gentrification work can take on many additional forms. Also, these groups borrow from the policy toolkits that have characterized anti-gentrification work, but they also engage in a range of efforts from community organizing and storytelling to community planning and leadership training that they argue are critical in creating the level of empowerment and access to decision making necessary for gentrification-vulnerable communities to exercise community control.
The groups conceptualize gentrification as taking place along an extended time period characterized by four stages. Each stage suggests its own set of policy interventions, resource redirection, and organizing strategy.
- Disinvestment and decline, in which powerful public and private institutions redirect resources away from a community.
- Devaluation, in which a “deficit narrative” comes to dominate elite and public discourse about communities that have been subject to disinvestment.
- Reinvestment, in which low land values and rents are ex- ploited, housing costs rise, and businesses and cultural institutions may turn over.
- Displacement in various forms, in which the loss of affordability pushes out long-term residents and businesses (direct displacement), changes conditions for those who are able to remain (cultural and political displacement), and precludes the entry of new, lower-income households (exclusionary displacement).