Atlanta – Gentrification and Displacement

Mapping Displacement, Gentrification, and Exclusion in Atlanta

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

When UDP met with stakeholders in Atlanta, they expressed that the BeltLine (a multi-use trail built on a former railway corridor) has introduced new risk of “green gentrification,” or the displacement pressures created by public investment in parks, trails, and other urban greening projects. Local advocates for equitable development voiced concerns about the health and access to opportunity of households displaced to transit-poor Atlanta suburbs and other “receiving communities” of displacement in the region. They also noted that residents are experiencing a growing loss of political power and sense of belonging through “civic displacement,” and that developments led by politically powerful corporations are actively impacting Atlanta’s at-risk communities of color.

The UDP research team is especially grateful to our research partners at the Atlanta Regional Commission, regional partners at the TransFormation Alliance, and to all of the Atlanta 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 dynamic pattern of advanced exclusivity to the north and gentrification and displacement to the south, corresponding with patterns of racial segregation and structural changes to Atlanta’s urban core.

  • Nearly half of all Atlanta neighborhoods experienced a rapid increase in housing costs (an increase above the regional median) between 2000 and 2017.
  • Approximately 80,000 low-income Atlanta households (13% of all low-income households) live in low-income neighborhoods at risk of, or already experiencing, gentrification and/or displacement.
  • As of 2017, half of Atlanta’s moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods demonstrated risk of or ongoing exclusion of lower-income households, a pattern especially prevalent on the northwest side of the city. 27% of Atlanta’s low-income households, or about 175,000 low-income households, live in these potentially or currently exclusive neighborhoods.
  • 60% of Atlanta’s low-income households live in low- or moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods that are stable.
  • 22% of lower-income neighborhoods in Atlanta were at risk of gentrification in 2017, and 7% were undergoing displacement of low-income households without gentrification.
  • Of the 8% of all Atlanta neighborhoods that lost low-income households between 2000 and 2017, more than half were moderate-to-high-income neighborhoods, indicating a need to more carefully examine displacement in exclusive areas.
  • The map illustrates a potential spatial relationship between neighborhood change and the BeltLine. As many as nine census tracts along the eastern position of the Beltline are classified as moderate and mixed-income areas “becoming exclusive” to low-income households. Meanwhile, lower-income, majority Black and Latinx areas along the BeltLine on the westside of Atlanta are experiencing increasing housing costs, gentrification, and displacement.