Watch our new gentrification explainer video to demystify the term! 

Policy Tools

Choose a city from the map to see its anti-displacement policy measures
  • County:   -
  • Just cause eviction ordinance   -
  • Rent stabilization or rent control   -
  • Rent review board and/or mediation   -
  • Mobile home rent control   -
  • SRO preservation   -
  • Condominium conversion regulations   -
  • Foreclosure assistance   -
  • Jobs-housing linkage fee or affordable housing impact/linkage fee   -
  • Commercial linkage fee/program   -
  • Housing trust fund   -
  • Inclusionary zoning/housing (below market rate housing)   -
  • Density bonus ordinance   -
  • Community land trusts   -
  • First source hiring ordinances   -
  • Sources:   -

The economy is booming in the San Francisco Bay Area, spurring enormous job creation and an influx of new high-earner households. But rapid growth is placing extreme pressure on housing markets, and for the region’s lower income communities – which are disproportionately communities of color and were already experiencing high rates of housing cost burden – this has translated into escalating rents and rises in evictions. These gentrification and displacement pressures threaten economic and racial diversity of the region in the long-term. What would it look like to change this trajectory and guide growth and development in a more equitable manner? What are the needed policy tools and how can diverse stakeholders come together to make change?

Together with the Community Development team at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, and the Great Communities Collaborative at the San Francisco Foundation, we are hosting a four-part workshop series on Investment without Displacement.

Read more here!


1. Neighborhood Stabilization, 11/22/16, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

2. Creating New Affordable Housing, 01/10/17, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Mountain View

3. Preserving Existing Affordable Housing Stock - 03/01017, Rockridge Library, Oakland

4. Increasing Access to Opportunity - date/location TBD



Read our Overview here (updated through 2015 inventory update). Download our complete inventory (Excel) here (updated through 2017).

  • Only 17 cities have instituted more than half of the 14 policies studied. Some 43 percent of cities have three or fewer policies on their books.
  • Of the policies inventoried, only two — inclusionary housing (where developers have to rent or sell a portion of their development at a reduced price to low- or moderate-income residents, provide additional housing elsewhere or pay a fee in lieu of producing such housing) and condominium conversion regulations—were widespread; all the others were found in fewer than 40 percent of cities.
  • Some of the most important policies to address acute impacts of displacement, devices such as evictions protections and rent control, are found in just 9 cities.
  • One of the most widespread policies (79 of 109 jurisdictions) is inclusionary housing.
  • Policies that promote the production of new affordable housing, like developer impact fees, seem to be working: cities with these policies produced more housing for very low-income households than cities without.
  • In early 2016, we took a look at cities in the Bay Area with rent control laws on the books (6 cities in the Bay Area at that time, 9 today). In those 6 cities, we found that there is less turnover in their renter populations, indicating that rent control can contribute to greater residential stability.

Glossary of Anti-Displacement Policies

Just Cause eviction ordinance

Just cause eviction statutes are laws that allow tenants to be evicted only for specific reasons. These “just causes” can include a failure to pay rent or violation of the lease terms.
Rent stabilization or rent control  Rent Control ordinances protect tenants from excessive rent increases, while allowing landlords a reasonable return on their investments. Such ordinances limit rent increase to certain percentages, but California state law allows landlords to raise rents to the market rate once the unit becomes vacant.
Rent review board and/or mediation Rent review boards mediate between tenants and landlords on issues related to rent increases, and encourage them to come into voluntary agreement. As mediators, the board normally does not make a binding decision in the case. 
Mobile Home Rent Control Mobile home rent control places specific rent increase restrictions on the land rented by mobile home owners, or the homes themselves.
SRO (Single-Room Occupancy) Preservation Single room occupancies, also called residential hotels, house one or two people in individual rooms. Tenants typically share bathrooms and/or kitchens. These are often considered a form of permanent residence affordable for low-income individuals. SRO Preservation ordinances help to preserve or create new SRO units. 
Condominium conversion regulations In addition to state laws regulating the conversion of multifamily rental property into condominiums (like subdivision mapping and homeowner association formation), many cities have enacted condominium conversion ordinances. These impose procedural restrictions (like notification requirements) and/or substantive restrictions on the ability to convert apartment units into condominiums (such as prohibiting conversions unless the city or regional vacancy rate is above a certain fixed amount or requiring that a certain number of units must be sold to persons of very low, low and moderate incomes).  The purpose of such ordinances is to protect the supply of rental housing.
Foreclosure Assistance

Many cities and counties have local programs that assist home owners (financially or otherwise) when they are at risk of foreclosure. These programs may be funded with federal grants.

Jobs-Housing Linkage Fee or Affordable Housing Impact/Linkage Fee Affordable housing impact/linkage fees are charges on developers of new market-rate, residential developments. They are based on the square footage or number of units in the developments and are used to develop or preserve affordable housing.
Commercial linkage fee/program Commercial linkage fees are charges on developers per square foot of new commercial development. Revenues are used to develop or preserve affordable housing.
Housing Trust Fund

A housing trust fund is a designated source of public funds—generated through various means—that is dedicated to creating affordable housing.

Inclusionary zoning/housing (Below Market Rate Housing) Inclusionary housing policies require market-rate developers of rental or for-sale housing to rent or sell a certain percentage of units at affordable prices. Some policies include a provision for developers to pay “in-lieu fees” in place of building the housing; this revenue is used to develop affordable units elsewhere. Several court cases have made unenforceable requirements for affordable rental units within market-rate buildings; by contrast, inclusionary homeownership policies have been upheld in the state supreme court.
Density bonus ordinance Density bonuses allow developers of market-rate housing to build higher-density housing, in exchange for having a certain portion of their units offered at affordable prices. In this inventory, we only include a city as having this policy if they allow an additional density bonus beyond that mandated by the state of California.
Community Land Trusts Community land trusts are nonprofit, community-based organizations (supported by the city or county) whose mission is to provide affordable housing in perpetuity by owning land and leasing it to those who live in houses built on that land.
First Source Hiring Ordinances First Source hiring ordinances ensure that city residents are given priority for new jobs created by municipal financing and development programs.


These Anti-Displacement Policy Case Studies look at three neighborhoods that were vulnerable to, but did not experience, gentrification and displacement in recent years. We discuss the features of these places and the strategies their cities used to limit their displacement.

Chinatown is situated at the center of San Francisco’s booming real estate market, with close proximity to the Financial District, Downtown, and affluent neighborhoods such as Russian Hill. Due to its prime location, it was expected that Chinatown would have succumbed to the pressures of development and speculation that have transformed surrounding areas and much of San Francisco. However, deliberate anti-displacement zoning policies, widespread rent control, and a well-organized community have preserved Chinatown as an Asian American and low-income enclave.

Download the case study here.

Key Findings: 

  • All the neighborhoods surrounding Chinatown have experienced dramatic growth in rent, while the case study neighborhood has remained exceptionally stable.
  • Rezoning in the 1980s, the city’s single-room occupancy policy, and rent control have all protected the neighborhood’s large stock of affordable housing.
  • A strong, organized community has played a key role in the neighborhood’s ability to resist gentrification.

These Anti-Displacement Policy Case Studies look at three neighborhoods that were vulnerable to, but did not experience, gentrification and displacement in recent years. We discuss the features of these places and the strategies their cities used to limit their displacement.

East Palo Alto is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. The city has long served as a pocket of affordability for low-income households who might otherwise be excluded from the affluent region.

Download the case study here.

Key findings: 

  • The case study neighborhood has welcomed new low-income households in recent years.
  • Median rent has doubled yet still remains more affordable than anywhere else in San Mateo County.
  • The city has consistently enacted policies in favor of affordable housing, including tenant protections, inclusionary zoning and housing subsidies.
  • Other factors, like a lack of good schools and access to amenities, a lingering perception of the city as unsafe, and overcrowding have also probably played a significant role in limiting gentrification.

These Anti-Displacement Policy Case Studies look at three neighborhoods that were vulnerable to, but did not experience, gentrification and displacement in recent years. We discuss the features of these places and the strategies their cities used to limit their displacement.

Diridon Station is a transit hub on the western edge of downtown San José, with stops for Caltrain, Amtrak, VTA light rail, ACE, and multiple bus lines. While there is significant vacant and non-residential land surrounding Diridon Station, there are also surrounding neighborhoods that are home to low- and middle-income residents where displacement spurred by rising housing costs is a major concern.

Download the case study here.

Key Findings: 

  • Housing production and population growth defines this area. Some of the demographic changes are consistent with gentrification (fewer families, increased income levels, increased educational attainment), yet the area also increased its number of low-income households.
  • Market-rate housing production, affordable housing production, and rent stabilization seem to be the main ways this neighborhood retained its low-income population.
  • The neighborhood is facing “encroachment” from all sides, with already-gentrified neighborhoods all around it. One expert thinks that the gritty and uneven character of West San Carlos has perhaps kept the neighborhood from gentrifying as dramatically as these surrounding places, but that in time it would, too.

In many built-out neighborhoods experiencing gentrification pressures, there may be little room for new developments. Therefore, strategies for preserving naturally occurring affordable rental units are needed to counteract displacement forces in these communities. Rent control is perhaps the most well-known strategy used to control the price of non-subsidized rental units.

Download the policy brief.

Key Findings:

  • Only six cities in the Bay Area have some form of rent control or stabilization in place. No jurisdiction has passed rent control since 1985 (Richmond passed and repealed a policy last year).
  • The cities that have this policy in place have less turnover in their renter populations, indicating that rent control can be a contributor to greater residential stability.
  • State law, primarily through the vacancy decontrol provision, limits the effectiveness of rent control policies. Rent control is most effective when paired with other tenant protections, like just cause evictions policies.

Inclusionary housing policies aim to increase the stock of affordable housing at a minimal cost to the city, concurrent with development, and in the same neighborhoods as market-rate housing. Inclusionary housing usually takes the form of a zoning requirement placed on developers of new market-rate housing. In this policy brief we discuss the basics of inclusionary housing policies, including their prevalence in the Bay Area, California, and nationally, and analyze their effectiveness.

Download the policy brief.

Key Findings:

  • Inclusionary housing policies are widespread in the Bay Area, California, and nationally.
  • The policies produce many units, but these supply only a small fraction of the total need for affordable housing.

When multifamily rental housing is converted into condominiums, the reduced rental housing stock may mean the loss of units that were affordable to low-income households. For this reason, many cities have implemented controls on such conversions. This policy brief gives an overview of these policies.

Download the policy brief.

Key Findings:

  • Condominium conversions were popular in the 1970s and briefly in the 1980s, but experts say they are not as much of an issue now.
  • Policies to limit conversions may focus on helping tenants as a building converts (procedural ordinances) or on limiting how many conversions may occur (substantive ordinances).
  • Loopholes in conversion ordinances limit their effectiveness.