Gentrification as Public Health Risk

Research around the United States has found gentrification to produce public health risks. Will lessons from Oakland and New York City be enough for a rapidly gentrifying city like St. Louis to escape poor public health outcomes?
J / Flickr

Samuel H. Taylor reviews the studies that have found gentrification to be a public health risk.

  • The Alameda County Public Health Department in Oakland, California, found "that the overall impact of gentrification on the displacement of current residents has been enormous, forcing the community’s largely African-American demographic to either move out amidst skyrocketing rent prices or attempt to weather the storm and stay put. The costs to these residents, stated the report, have been reduced psychological and social well-being, increased stress, financial uncertainty, shifting community structure, and the loss of vital health and social resources."
  • Researchers in New York City found that rapid gentrification was associated with higher pre-term birth rates amongst African-American women. 
  • Other studies have shown that gentrification "significantly affect low-income children and limit their access to educational resources." 

The evidence of gentrifications negative health impacts are numerous enough that the Centers for Disease Control have identified gentrification as a "potential health risk to communities."

After the literature review, Taylor examines the case of St. Louis—"one of the fastest gentrifying cities in the United States"—producing a call to action in response to the challenge facing the city: "Development is great for St. Louis; displacement would raise serious questions about the health of our city. With an eye toward protecting vulnerable communities and supporting their development, St. Louis can have the former without the latter."

Full Story: Gentrification as public health concern?

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