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Contending with privileged influx : lessons from Boston's Mission Hill

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Title: Contending with privileged influx : lessons from Boston's Mission Hill
Author: Elton, Jessica
Advisor: Hein, Carola
Department: Bryn Mawr College. Growth and Structure of Cities Program
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Running Time: 330199 bytes141693 bytes
Issue Date: 2004
Abstract: Gentrification occurs in disinvested urban neighborhoods around the world. Individuals with incomes higher than the majority of the existing population rent or buy property, upgrade the buildings, and attract further investment. City governments may actively encourage gentrification because cities benefit from the increase in expendable income and enhanced tax base. Yet, there are critical negative impacts of gentrification: property values often increase, pricing existing residents out of their homes. While some types of change are necessary for a neighborhood's perpetuation and development, gentrification is often more harmful than helpful to the existing local community. What can neighborhood communities do to minimize the displacement of existing residents while encouraging change that improves quality of life in the neighborhood? This thesis examines strategies employed to such ends by actors in the Mission Hill neighborhood of Boston, where the expansion of nearby universities and hospitals coupled with increased real estate speculation threaten the endurance of a racially diverse, low to moderate-income community. Actors implement a variety of tactics to minimize displacement of existing residents in Mission Hill. Several community groups develop subsidized housing for low to moderate-income people, while another organization takes part in the licensing and permitting processes to challenge development by institutions and real estate speculators that is unwanted by the community. Other groups transcend the physical scale of the neighborhood in their methods by organizing tenants in multi-neighborhood districts so that tenants can negotiate effectively with landlords regarding rent increases and by promoting policies such as section 8 and rent control. Two additional citywide groups engage in initiatives aimed at helping low to moderate-income and minority youth pursue higher education so that they can compete in today's global economy where education is increasingly important as a means to gaining upward economic mobility. The case of Mission Hill suggests that community strategies that contend with gentrification on a local level can stall unwanted trends. Still, policies that compensate for the inability of the market to provide affordable housing are critical to ensuring the longevity of thriving, low to moderate-income urban communities. In addition, approaches that respond to demands of the global economy by emphasizing the value of education offer solutions that are important in terms of long-term, structural change.
Subject: Gentrification -- Massachusetts -- Boston
Subject: Land use, Urban -- Massachusetts -- Boston
Access Restrictions: Open Access
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Elton, Jessica. "Contending with privileged influx : lessons from Boston's Mission Hill". 2004. Available electronically from

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