CUNY SPH faculty Glen Johnson, in collaboration with CUNY Queens College faculty Melissa Checker, has been awarded a grant through the CUNY Interdisciplinary Research Grant Program to evaluate the association between land use changes and gentrification.
While greenspace and other environmental improvements are typically welcome in urban environments, they can also stimulate socio-economic and demographic changes, leading to the concept of “environmental gentrification.” Scholars working across multiple disciplines have theorized the fundamental role of environmental gentrification in generating socio-spatial inequalities, but these analyses are largely descriptive and anecdotal. Johnson and Checker will formally assess effects of these changes in New York City with the longer-term goal of replicability in other cities.
As a mixed methods approach, gentrification within census tracts will initially be quantified through development of an index based on multiple community-level variables. Qualitative observation of local conditions will help identify critical community variables and also help to interpret quantitative results. Further, the influence of re-zoning and other land use changes, such as brownfield development, on gentrification will be evaluated through both qualitative geo-visualization and quantitative hypothesis testing through spatio-temporal statistical modelling.
“This research could be used to help guide more equitable and socially just redevelopment and land-use decisions across the country,” the authors say. “It could also help communities address broader urban issues such as the lack of affordable housing and inequitable exposure to negative environmental conditions.”