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Gentrification in DC

A look at resources available about gentrification in Washington, D.C.

Gentrification in Washington, D.C.

An overhead view of H Street NE in Washington, D.C.

What is Gentrification?

Gentrification is the return of wealthy families or businesses to impoverished city neighborhoods. This occurrence sometimes results from specific campaign of tax or other incentives but more often results from basic economics in which urban property values sink to a point where the land becomes a desirable commodity once again.

These “gentry” are typically young, white, and white collar. They may have been raised in the suburbs but work in the city; thus, the move allows them easier access to their jobs and also to urban entertainment and services, such as museums, art galleries, and restaurants.

The presence of these new families and businesses generally begins to drive the prices up once more which leads to further revitalization of the area. At the same time that an apparently positive transformation is taking place, however, poorer residents may no longer be able to afford to stay in their own homes with the increased living costs and property taxes. Likewise, many of the small businesses favored by the working class may be replaced by more expensive “upscale” boutiques and gourmet shops. Even more troubling is the incidence of campaigns to clean up the streets in which the newly arrived wealthy actively seek to remove existing residents because of their perceived negative impact on the neighborhood. Gentrification often provides an apparent success story for government officials who want to prove they have rescued a blighted city, but most studies find that the problems of the urban poor require more complex and long-term solutions.

From the point of view of many of the poor and working class, however, gentrification is merely a cosmetic effect, an apparent success story for government officials to point to as an example of their efforts to rescue a blighted city. Most studies find that the problem of revitalizing a city without exacerbating the plight of the urban poor requires a more complex and far-reaching solution.


From Gentrification. (2001). In J. M. Palmisano (Ed.), World of sociology, Gale. Gale. Credo Reference