The Meaning of Displacement

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The meaning of "displacement" in this context must be limited, of course, to persons who move from their homes, but would prefer not to. Obviously, people move all the time for many reasons; indeed, it is estimated that half of all urban residents move every five years. Direct displacement in the rental market from gentrification would occur when a landlord raises rents precipitously or withdraws a unit from the market to refurbish it or sell it for owner occupation in order to take advantage of neighborhood changes. These reflect the most troubling harm from gentrification: the displaced persons are forced to move from their homes and often from their neighborhoods by forces beyond their control. Such persons may experience social dislocation and a psychological wrench from the severing of emotional ties. Such harms will be aggravated when the displaced person must seek housing in a market of rising rents. Direct displacement may also occur when an owner-occupier feels she must sell when rising property values sharply increase the amount of property tax due. Yet, here the story is more complicated because the owner also has an asset increasing in value that provides opportunities as well as costs. Indirect displacement occurs when, upon the voluntary departure of existing residents, the owner raises rents, or removes the unit from the market. The harm here is the loss to the neighborhood of an affordable dwelling. Indeed, both types of displacement, direct and indirect,
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