U of M research studies gentrification in Minneapolis/St. Paul

January 14, 2016

A new University of Minnesota Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity study evaluates the extent to which gentrification has been occurring in Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods. Since 2000, researchers examined data for 12 separate indicators of neighborhood change, including income, poverty, racial change, owner occupancy rates, home values, rents, and housing affordability. The results show very little evidence of changes consistent with gentrification.

Overall, the neighborhoods that are most often cited as candidates for gentrification—Camden, Near North, Northeast, Phillips, and Powderhorn in Minneapolis and Battle Creek/Dayton’s Bluff, North End/Thomas Dale, Payne-Phalen, and West Side/ W. 7th St./Downtown in St. Paul—were more likely to show signs of decline for 2000 and 2009 to 2013, than signs of gentrification.

Only the Powderhorn neighborhood showed any signs of gentrification—increases in white population shares and in rents compared to Minneapolis averages. However, at the end of the period, the area still showed more characteristics of a neighborhood at risk of decline—lower-than-average income, higher-than-average poverty, increasing poverty populations, lower-than-average owner-occupancy, lower-than-average home values and rents, and greater-than-average amounts of low-income housing—than of an area undergoing gentrification.

The only neighborhoods that showed consistent signs of increasing housing and rental costs, increasing incomes, slower-growing poverty, and declining affordability for low-income households were areas that already showed greater-than-average incomes and housing costs, lower-than-average poverty, and less affordable housing at the beginning of the period. The clear implication is that further decline in already disadvantaged neighborhoods and increasing neighborhood disparities are a much greater risk in the region than gentrification.

Comparisons with other cities with confirmed gentrification concerns show that the issue is much less pressing in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The comparison cities—Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.—show home values and rents that are significantly higher than in the Twin Cities, especially when compared to incomes.

The report’s policy recommendations are based on the need to combat further decline in already disadvantaged neighborhoods, increasing disparities between neighborhoods, and loss of access or affordability in high-income neighborhoods. Recommendations include focusing on a more equitable distribution of subsidized and affordable housing units in order to improve access to expensive and inaccessible neighborhoods.

A full version of the research report can be viewed here.

About the Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity
Established in 1993 as the Institute on Race and Poverty, IMO investigates the ways that laws, policies and practices affect development patterns in U.S. metropolitan regions, with a particular focus on the growing social and economic disparities within these areas. Through research, communications, mapping, and legal advocacy, the Institute provides resources to policymakers, civil rights advocates, and the general public to address reform in taxation, land use, housing, metropolitan governance, and education.

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