Gentrification refers to the revitalization of the urban settlements that mostly result in the displacement of low-income, lower class and non-standing communities in the region. Gentrification often begins with the influx of the higher strata of society and higher classes into a historically existing lower-income lower-strata section of the society. The demographic shift accompanies increased rents, property taxes, rise in value for land, upscale businesses, and markets – which ultimately reshapes the social, cultural, and ecological landscape of a locality. 

The speed of gentrification amidst community living has significantly increased in numerous cities across the world. According to Governing, nearly 20 per cent of neighbourhoods in the United States with lower-income and lower-class communities and decreasing property values have undergone gentrification, a stark increase from the 9 per cent observed in the 1990s. 

Community Living in the Age of Gentrification: Strategies for Resilience - Sheet1
Activists block Chicago’s The 606 trail in 2016 to protest gentrification and displacement_ ©Tyler Lariviere

Causes and Impact of Gentrification 

Although gentrification can lead to economic well-being and development, it can negatively affect the cultural and social fabric of an already-existing neighbourhood. One of the pressing issues in gentrified areas is the displacement of long-standing communities due to sky-rocketing living costs, rent, and property policies. As affluent groups or tribes of people move in, the cultural character of a neighbourhood may change, forcing traditions and culture to erode. This leads to the loss of community identity and heritage. 

Economic growth and rapid industrialization of local businesses, agriculture, and market push for the homogenization of a demographic region. While this sounds universal and accommodating, homogenization leads to the loss of diversity in the ecological tapestry of a community. 

Owing to the rapid pace of gentrified communities, communities must develop strategies for resilience that foster inclusivity and empower residents. Resilience strategies are beneficial for community living, extending beyond just preparing for post-weather or climatic conditions. Enhanced public health, increased access to natural spaces, and reduced energy expenses are some of the benefits associated with investing in resilience for urban areas. 

Community Living in the Age of Gentrification: Strategies for Resilience - Sheet2
Columbia Heights in Washington, D.C_ ©David Kidd

Strategies For Resilience 

Sustainability & Environmental Measures 

Initiatives for sustainability can contribute to the resilience of a community in the age of gentrification. Community gardens, renewable and recyclable energy products, and preservation and conservation measures not only improve the region’s environment but also strengthen community bonds through shared events and activities. These efforts and initiatives have the potential to decrease the cost of living and property rates and create economic opportunities for the residents. 

In Boston, buildings and facades account for two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. To tackle this issue, various departments across the city collaborated to create a guidebook for Zero Emission Buildings, showcasing a comprehensive, cross-governmental approach to climate action. In March 2021, Boston committed 34 million dollars to the construction and preservation of affordable housing, stipulating that these units must adhere to zero emissions standards. This ensured that the advantages of net-zero initiatives were accessible to low-income residents. 

Community Living in the Age of Gentrification: Strategies for Resilience - Sheet3
Roxbury Neighbourdhood in Boston_©

Prioritizing equity in resilience strategies remains crucial for city leaders. Housing should be viewed as a central component of climate initiatives, creating a direct link between housing and sustainability efforts to benefit everyone in community living. It is imperative that housing and climate priorities are pursued simultaneously. This integrated approach recognizes environmental measures are imperative and accessible to every resident. By aligning community living and strategies for sustainability, cities can take significant steps towards an inclusive living environment for everyone. 

Legal Advocacy 

Understanding and utilizing legal protections is crucial in safeguarding the rights of residents facing gentrification. Knowledge of tenant rights, zoning regulations, and property ownership laws empowers individuals and communities to assert their rights and interests. Collaborating with legal aid organizations can provide invaluable support in navigating the complex legal landscape. 

An example of cities overcoming gentrification is Barcelona in Spain. The city prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists by creating traffic-regulated zones, with outer streets for cars and buses. The initiative reduces car traffic by 21%, improves public transit, and combats pollution, aiming to save lives and repurpose car-centric spaces for community activities. 

Community Living in the Age of Gentrification: Strategies for Resilience - Sheet4
Barcelona, Spain_©

The program was taken up under Yor Ada Colae, aiming to prioritize residents’ well-being, affordable living, and sustainable economic models. While some opposition exists, the superblocks focus on preserving social housing and employ tactical urbanism for vibrant and inclusive public spaces. 

Education and Skills Development 

Empowering residents with education and skill development opportunities is a vital strategy for resilience. By investing in education, individuals can acquire the tools necessary for community engagement to participate in developing the economic landscape. Community centres, workshops, apprenticeship courses for the minority, and mentorship programs can serve as platforms for learning, fostering a culture of entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency for community living.

The Roma Norte neighbourhood in Mexico City,2016_©Francisco Peláez

Gentrification comes with significant challenges to communities, but with resilience and education, people can assert their rights and continue to live within their neighborhoods. By preserving traditions, heritage, affordable housing, supporting localization and investing in education, engaging in civic life, understanding legal protection, and fostering inclusivity, communities can grow together resiliently in the era of gentrification. Community living can shape the trajectory of living, ensuring that they remain inclusive, vibrant, and sustainable for generations to come.


  1. Gould KA and Lewis TL (2021) Resilience Gentrification: Environmental Privilege in an Age of Coastal Climate Disasters. Front. Sustain. Cities 3:687670. doi: 10.3389/frsc.2021.687670
  2. Schnake-Mahl AS, Jahn JL, Subramanian SV, Waters MC, Arcaya M. Gentrification, Neighborhood Change, and Population Health: a Systematic Review. J Urban Health. 2020 Feb;97(1):1-25. doi: 10.1007/s11524-019-00400-1. PMID: 31938975; PMCID: PMC7010901.
  3. Degen, M and Garcia, M (2012) ‘The Transformation of the ‘Barcelona Model’:

An Analysis of Culture, Urban Regeneration and Governance’, International

Journal of Urban and Regional Research, pp 1-18.


A design graduate passionate about poetry, photography and picturesque cityscapes, Irene is the happiest when she's around coffee, puppies or the beach. When not working on her wildly aesthetic photography page, you'll find her doom scrolling on Pinterest, scribbling on her journal and putting together many un(necessary) moodboards. Above all, she enjoys making a change in the people and spaces around her, one design choice at a time.