Gentrification, Displacement, and Neighborhood Revitalization

By J. John Palen; Bruce London | Go to book overview

first half of the century, has been turned inside out. The explanation is the strong demand from a succession of groups--the Australian working-class tenants, migrants, and then the young middle classes--combined with the natural and historical advantages of the areas themselves. Public policy played relatively little part in bringing about these changes, and it is difficult to envisage how it could ever generate improvement on such a massive scale; the major policy success was the absence of any actions that would have inhibited the improvements.

It seems that major urban change usually exacts the highest costs of those who are least able to afford them. There was a major exception when the inner areas were improved by and for the working classes during the economic expansion of the early postwar years. However, history has more recently reverted to form: just as the poor were left in a deteriorating inner city during the early days of suburbanization, they are now experiencing considerable hardship as the middle classes outbid them for newly fashionable housing near jobs and amenities. Public policy can limit the excesses of the private market in two ways. First, land-use controls that direct economic activity to outer areas would lessen the forces behind gentrification in inner areas and reduce the journey-to-work in outer areas. Second, direct public acquisition of existing housing in inner areas would preserve a share of accommodation for poor tenants. While some helpful action in these directions is being taken, the economic and political obstacles are substantial and there is little prospect for policies that would fully ameliorate the problems for those on modest incomes.


NOTES
1.
There is little literature specifically on gentrification in other Australian cities. Among the few available studies are examinations of Brisbane ( Cities Commission 1975), Newcastle ( Crooks Michell Peacock Stewart Pty Ltd. 1976), Freemantle ( Newman 1977), and Hobart ( Graham 1977). There is also a series of atlases that show population distributions and changes in Sydney ( Poulsen and Spearritt 1981), Melbourne ( Cities Commission and Davis 1975), Adelaide ( Babcock, Jaensch, and Williams 1977), Brisbane ( McDonald and Guilfoyle 1981), and Perth ( Houghton 1979).

REFERENCES

Australian Population and Immigration Council. 1976. A decade of migrant settlement: Report on the 1973 immigration survey. Canberra: Australian Government Printing Office.

-251-

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