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One Crisis Away, No Place To Go: Why Gentrification Intensifies Segregation

Allison V. Smith
KERA special contributor

KERA’s series One Crisis Away: No Place To Go has spent the last few months exploring the housing crunch in West Dallas -- a neighborhood in the early stages of gentrification. As pricey restaurants and apartments go in, low-income residents -- almost all of them Latino or black -- are being edged out.

Gentrification Intensifies Segregation.

Claudia Aranda has a straightforward theory: gentrification intensifies segregation.


"That it's not just about discrimination and private practices by housing providers. That's it's also about where people are living today,” she says.


Aranda developed this theory working for the Urban Institute in Washington D.C. And it's playing out in West Dallas right now.


Most of the 300 families we've been following have left West Dallas. And very few have landed in racially diverse suburbs. Almost all of them have ended up in poor, minority-dominated neighborhoods like south Oak Cliff.


"When we moved here, my husband's work truck was broken into, my son's car was broken into,” says Rosemary Guerra.


Guerra and her family members were lifetime residents of West Dallas up until a few months ago. When they were told they had to move because their homes weren't up to city code, they left. They headed south to Oak Cliff. It wasn't a move they wanted to make. It was the only one they could afford.


A Familiar Pattern


Researcher Claudia Aranda says it happens all the time.


“When we talk about what choice you have in housing, it's really a lack of a choice. It's what you are left with because of what you can afford."


When all the low-income families move in one direction, in Dallas that tends to be south or southeast, all the poverty gets clustered together.


"We continue to see these concentrated areas of poverty, that are also concentrated racially and ethnically,” Aranda says.


Read more here. Explore all of One Crisis Away: No Place To Go here.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.