Gentrification and Displacement

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Mapping Displacement, Gentrification, and Exclusion in Denver

UDP collaborated with the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC) to assess local dynamics around gentrification, displacement, and exclusion in Denver, in close collaboration with local partners. We hope that the resulting map of our neighborhood change typology will empower Denver communities to better understand their trajectories and stabilize their resident population. 

When UDP met with stakeholders in Denver, they explained that low-income Latinx and Black households are being displaced to parts of the region with poorer access to transit and needed services. Some neighborhoods are experiencing “churn,” or demographic shifts and racial succession that are not necessarily driven by gentrification, where neighborhoods see high rates of eviction and turnover but remain low-income instead of experiencing investment-driven gentrification. Equitable development advocates also noted that the region may see possible impacts of climate migration, with an influx of “climate migrants” projected from higher climate risk regions.

The UDP research team is especially grateful to our research partners at Colorado Futures Center (formerly Shift Research Labs), regional partners at Mile High Connects, and to all of the Denver SPARCC affiliate organizations listed below.

Key Findings

The UDP typology examines processes of gentrification and displacement in low-income neighborhoods (with a median household income at 80% of the regional median) and exclusion in moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods (at 80% of the regional median or above). Neighborhoods are categorized as exclusionary when rents are so expensive that low-income people are excluded from moving in—another form of displacement. The resulting typology map demonstrates a pattern of higher-income, exclusive tracts in the central city, in contrast with  lower-income suburban areas further north. Furthermore, while lower-income areas of Denver have more white residents than other SPARCC regions, the areas of the region that are at risk of or currently experiencing displacement are predominantly communities of color, particularly in southwest Denver. 

  • 61% of Denver neighborhoods experienced a rapid increase in housing costs (an increase above the regional median) between 2000 and 2017.
  • More than 50,000 low-income Denver households (11% of all low-income households) live in low-income neighborhoods at risk of, or already experiencing, gentrification and/or displacement, especially in southwest Denver, Edgewater, Aurora, and suburban areas north of the city.
  • As of 2017, 45% of Denver’s moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods demonstrated risk of or ongoing exclusion of lower-income households, a pattern especially prevalent in the central city and in suburban areas further south. 21% of Denver’s low-income households, or over 100,000 low-income households, live in these potentially or currently exclusive neighborhoods.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Denver’s low-income households live in low- or moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods that are stable.
  • 17% of lower-income neighborhoods in Denver were at risk of gentrification in 2017, and 6% were undergoing displacement of low-income households without gentrification.
  • Of the 8% of all Denver neighborhoods that lost low-income households between 2000 and 2017, 71% were moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods, indicating a need to more carefully examine displacement in exclusive areas.