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Landscape and Urban Planning





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Environmental contamination and limited access to green spaces disproportionately burden communities of color with negative impacts on residents’ health. Yet, cleaning up contamination and creating green spaces has in some cases been associated with displacing long-term residents as the neighborhood becomes desirable to more affluent, often Whiter, populations through environmental gentrification. We used mixed methods to investigate environmental gentrification in the city of Chicago, IL, USA. We examined quantitatively the relationship between green areas, brownfield cleanups, and indicators of gentrification, including race and ethnicity, income, households without children, and home ownership. We explored through qualitative interviews how key informants perceive the risk and impacts of environmental gentrification. We found that brownfields cleanup is statistically correlated with proportionately fewer Hispanic residents and more White residents. We did not find any significant correlation between green area and demographic change with the exception of an elevated rail trail linear park. These results align with a racialized process of gentrification, described by some key informants, whereby racial stereotypes lead White newcomers to feel more comfortable moving into Hispanic than Black neighborhoods. The interview results also suggested that racialized disinvestment drives the displacement of people of color, especially African-Americans, from their communities and serves as a precursor for gentrification. These results add to a growing body of evidence that interventions to prevent environmental gentrification will need to be context-specific, multi-faceted, equity-centered, and ideally occur early on within disinvested communities before gentrification takes hold.


Author Posting © The Authors, 2023. This article was published open access in Landscape and Urban Planning, Volume 236.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.