Today, many formerly redlined neighborhoods are undergoing new types of reinvestment in the form of gentrification.
Gentrification is the process through which previously low-income areas are transformed into high income areas through neighborhood rezoning and redevelopment.
In 2016, Williamsburg, Brooklyn was ranked as the most gentrified neighborhood in the city by the NYU Furman Center. Long home to a working-class and immigrant community, Williamsburg remained largely industrial until the 1990s even as artists who could no longer afford Manhattan rents began moving into industrial properties converted for residential use. However, it was the rezoning plan, launched by the city in 2005, that dramatically gentrified the neighborhood, transforming former factories and warehouses into high-rise luxury condominiums, high-end hotels, upscale restaurants, and boutique shops.
Since the rezoning, rents have soared almost 70%. At the same time, the area’s White population has increased by 44%, while the Latino population decreased by 27%. The median household income increased from about $42,000 in 2010 to $78,000 in 2018. For the low-income minority populations that have remained, rezoning has led to segregation in small pockets.
Gentrified Williamsburg makes clear that gentrification does not necessarily equal integration. Integration is based on the ability of all people to live in racially and economically integrated neighborhoods, not just the ability of the wealthy to decide where they want to live. By ignoring the effects of an influx of market-rate apartments and failing to provide sufficient affordable housing, the planning policies that fuel gentrification often displace the locals and exacerbate the segregation patterns that were set in previous decades.