Gentrification and Changes in the Stock of Low-Cost Rental Housing in Philadelphia, 2000 to 2014

Abstract: Philadelphia has experienced increased rental housing affordability challenges in recent years, especially in neighborhoods that have undergone gentrification. This report explores one aspect of gentrification?s impact on housing costs by examining its association with changes in Philadelphia?s stock of units that rent for less than $750 per month. Using tract-level U.S. Census Bureau data, this report finds that, between 2000 and 2014, the city lost one out of five units with rents that fell below this cost threshold. These losses were especially acute in gentrifying neighborhoods, as these neighborhoods lost low-cost units at over five times the rate of nongentrifying neighborhoods. These losses were mitigated by the city?s stock of federally subsidized affordable housing, but 20 percent of these subsidized units will see their affordability restriction periods expire within the next five years. Of particular concern are the 23 federally subsidized properties ? comprising 1,099 units ? that are located in gentrifying neighborhoods and owned by for-profit entities. These properties may be at higher risk of converting to market rate and subsequently becoming unaffordable for lower-income renters. These findings confirm that gentrification has been associated with especially acute losses of low-cost rental housing in Philadelphia. The preservation of federally subsidized units would help stem the city?s loss of housing that is affordable to lower-income residents and would give these residents greater access to improving neighborhoods that may otherwise be financially unattainable.

Keywords: poverty; Philadelphia; rental housing;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Part of Series: Cascade Focus

Publication Date: 2017-01

Order Number: 5