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Cityscape: Volume 18 Number 3 | Linking Residents to Opportunity: Gentrification and Public Housing


The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Volume 18, Number 3

Mark D. Shroder

Michelle P. Matuga

Linking Residents to Opportunity: Gentrification and Public Housing

Samuel Dastrup
Abt Associates Inc.

Ingrid Gould Ellen
New York University

This article documents that most public housing in New York City, which was originally built decades ago in low-income areas, is now surrounded by neighborhoods with relatively high average household incomes. Higher neighborhood income is associated with improved neighborhood indicators—developments surrounded by increasing- and high-income neighborhoods have lower violent crime rates and are zoned for public elementary schools with higher standardized test scores than developments surrounded by low-income neighborhoods. In addition, New York City Housing Authority residents in developments with increasing- and high-income surrounding neighborhoods are more often employed, earn $1,675 and $3,500 more annually, respectively, after controlling for observable characteristics, and have higher adult educational attainment. To be sure, the benefits are not unqualified; our qualitative research shows that, although public housing residents appreciate improvements in the surrounding neighborhoods (especially improved safety), they can also feel alienated when the neighborhoods around them change and face challenges as day-to-day living expenses increase, even if rents are held steady.

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