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The Right to Stay Put, Revisited: Gentrification and Resistance to Displacement in New York City

Kathe Newman and Elvin K. Wyly
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Kathe Newman: Department of Urban Planning and Policy Development, Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, 33 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA, knewman@rci.rutgers.edu
Elvin K. Wyly: Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z2, Canada, ewyly@geog.ubc.ca

Urban Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 1, 23-57

Abstract: Displacement has been at the centre of heated analytical and political debates over gentrification and urban change for almost 40 years. A new generation of quantitative research has provided new evidence of the limited (and sometimes counter-intuitive) extent of displacement, supporting broader theoretical and political arguments favouring mixed-income redevelopment and other forms of gentrification. This paper offers a critical challenge to this interpretation, drawing on evidence from a mixed-methods study of gentrification and displacement in New York City. Quantitative analysis of the New York City Housing and Vacancy Survey indicates that displacement is a limited yet crucial indicator of the deepening class polarisation of urban housing markets; moreover, the main buffers against gentrification-induced displacement of the poor (public housing and rent regulation) are precisely those kinds of market interventions that are being challenged by advocates of gentrification and dismantled by policy-makers. Qualitative analysis based on interviews with community organisers and residents documents the continued political salience of displacement and reveals an increasingly sophisticated and creative array of methods used to resist displacement in a policy climate emphasising selective deregulation and market-oriented social policy.

Date: 2006
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