Quantifying Neighborhood Change in Little Five Points
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Gentrification has emerged as a major issue receiving attention from urban economics, planning, sociology and geography practices due to its growth from only large western cities in the 1960s into a global urban phenomenon. As many middle and upper class residents have begun to choose urban living, the low- and very low-income communities found in the inner city have seen and continue to see their neighborhoods drastically change. This trend is expected to strengthen in the coming years, creating a need to deepen the understanding of neighborhood change and work to mitigate the negative affects it can have on low-income communities (Florida, 2010). To understand the process of gentrification in an Atlanta neighborhood, a quantitative study was conducted to track neighborhood changes over time. In Atlanta, several neighborhoods are recognized as experiencing and having experienced gentrification (City of Atlanta Task Force 2001). Little Five Points is a historic Atlanta neighborhood on the east side of the city straddling the Fulton and De Kalb County lines. Of the neighborhoods identified by Atlanta’s Gentrification Task Force, Little Five Points was chosen as an area of focus because it is further along in the gentrification process than the others. The purpose of this study is to understand the particular changes Little Five Points experienced from 1980 to 2009 and explore how other communities might learn from this neighborhood’s experience. To accomplish this goal, this research paper utilizes the quantitative analyses of neighborhood indicators, choosing several variables from the decennial American Census and American Community Survey, monitoring the indicators in 1980, 1990, 2000, and 2005-2009, and gleaning information regarding the demographic and economic shifts within the neighborhood. The community indicator project was designed based on the community indicators’ current literature, which helped to identify which indicators are suitable for measuring neighborhood change, and the extent to which these indicators signify change. Gentrification can take many forms depending on the city and neighborhood’s characteristics (Lees, Hammell, and Wyly 2010, p. 135). In order to focus on the aspects of gentrification this study is concerned with, the research is framed with several questions in mind. How much displacement has gentrification caused in Little Five Points? Have the demographics shifted in such a way that decennial neighborhood indicators from the United States Census can accurately track neighborhood change in Little Five Points? Were the negative effects minimal enough to claim gentrification in this neighborhood as positive? How can studies with this scope, a scope suitable for many community-based organizations to conduct, be improved so neighborhood organizations can improve their work with access to relevant data? Through answering these questions, this research paper will look to deepen understandings of gentrification, ideally to maximize the benefits for the incumbent low income neighborhood residents.