what is gentrification ap human geography

What is Gentrification AP Human Geography? You are naturally going to wonder about it if you are a fellow geography enthusiast.

Have you every strolled through a neighborhood only to wonder how it quickly transfers into super trendy from being kinda run-down in the past?

If you have been in that situation, know that you have witnessed the wonders of gentrification.

But, what is gentrification in AP human geography?

It refers to the phenomenon which occurs when people from wealthier backgrounds migrate into lower-income areas, causing property values to rise. 

What is Gentrification AP Human Geography?

definition gentrification in ap human geography

Gentrification describes the movement of wealthy educated individuals into poorer working-class communities.

Gentrification brings new investment but the people it attracts have different aspirations and goals than the less wealthy long-term residents, usually minorities and people of color.

This makes gentrification a complex social process that impacts lives as it changes the culture of the community.

At the same time, it pushes up local prices, making it harder for members of the original community to live or work there.

Not all will leave, and it is argued that those who choose to remain will also benefit from living in a wealthier neighborhood. 

Fact: Neighborhoods with ancient architecture are particularly susceptible to gentrification because they appeal to well-off buyers looking for something out of the ordinary. 

What are the different types of gentrification in AP human geography?

types of gentrification in ap human geography

In order to learn more about gentrification in AP human geography, you first need to learn a bit about its various types.

There are four types of gentrification in AP human geography.

These include the following:

Expansive Gentrification in large cities such as Boston, Seattle, New York City, and San Francisco because the efficient street grid systems make movement easy.

Concentrated Gentrification –  in older cities such as Washington, DC, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Advances into white wealthy areas and then outwards through the rest of the area.

Limited Gentrification – occurs when the process is contained within a suburb when there is limited public transportation, e.g., Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Diego.

Nascent Gentrification – occurs in recently modernized southern cities including Houston, Memphis and Charlotte. 

Key Characteristics of Gentrification

You may have understood the definition of gentrification, but may still be wondering what sets these areas apart from the rest.

The most obvious characteristic of a gentrified area is its mixed demographic.

Since some of the previous minority residents stay, a community could potentially contain a diverse group of people.

key characteristics of gentrification

These people may come from different:

  • Ethnicities
  • Spiritual conviction
  • Education and socioeconomic circumstances

Gentrifying an area opens it up to new economic opportunities and attracts commercial investment creating stable local employment.

The result is an increase in tax revenue which is spent on infrastructure repairs and development, cultural events and leisure.

Fact: Because the new wealthy arrivals tend to be more security-minded, the community is safer, with high real estate prices and luxury housing. 

Positive Examples of Gentrification AP

positive examples of gentrification ap

The term gentrification was coined in the 1960s to describe how Islington, a downtrodden suburb of London in the UK, had undergone a dramatic change.

After significant development, the rising cost of living displaced many of the old residents.

But it attracted many who were comparatively more affluent, including Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In the US, New York is the most commonly cited example of successful gentrification areas.

 One good example is Bushwick in Brooklyn, a former industrial area, which is now a bustling center for street art and culture.

There are studios and coffee-shops, trees and parks along with a thriving nightlife.  

More about the Consequences of Gentrification

more about the consequences of gentrification

Gentrification results in a community undergoing a transformation, sometimes this creates pressures and conflict or fosters resentment as resources and infrastructures are put under strain.

There is an argument that the process only benefits the wealthy newcomer and does nothing at all to help the community’s long-time residents.

Let’s talk more about some of the consequences you may expect because of gentrification: 

Displacement of Low-Income Residents

Manipulating the availability of affordable housing drove the post-war shift into low quality urban housing.

Brokers practiced blockbusting, encouraging black families to move into urban areas so white families would sell low and move out to the new suburbs.

These new majority-African American communities were denied the investment to improve their neighborhoods through a practice called redlining

With real estate held low and the area in decline, it becomes a target for gentrification. 

Changes in Neighborhood Character and Cultural Identity

changes in neighborhood character and cultural identity

Gentrification can sometimes lead to a change in the neighborhood’s cultural identity.

The truth is that a neighborhood will change in character and cultural identity is not denied.

Such inner-city areas are in demand as the younger generation seeks city life to live and work near all its amenities.

The improved infrastructure and real estate provided by the huge surge in commercial investment attract the well-educated on stable incomes

What is disputed is who benefits from the change when cultural displacement sees minorities overwhelmed and pushed out of the area. 

Gentrification as a Contributor to Social Inequality

gentrification as a contributor to social inequality

The idea is that upper and middle-income residents will benefit the poorer, improving the economy as a whole.

But, is it really the case? The criticism of gentrification is that the targeted areas always seem to be where people of color live.

There is only a temporarily diverse community before low-income minorities are priced out by the cost of living there.

This ‘deconcentrating of poverty by demolition’,  is a process akin to demolishing the slums in the UK and that destroyed many urban communities.

Fact: Many people attribute the earliest stages of gentrification to the creative class, which includes artists, musicians, and other cultural producers. 

More about the Strategies to Mitigate Gentrification

Naturally, local governments have sought ways to make gentrification fairer.

To make the area more inclusive, modern planning makes provision for a mix of housing stock from affordable single-bed apartments to luxury housing.

It ensures incentives for current residents to help improve the quality of homes encouraging long-time residents to stay. 

Affordable Housing Policies and Programs

affordable housing policies and programs

Research on gentrification is divided on whether displacement is an inevitable outcome.

Some even suggest it is rare but while mobility rates of low-income residents may be the same as in non-gentrified areas, low-income families are unable to afford to move in and replace existing families as housing costs escalate.

Developers seek to involve the community more, offering location-efficient mortgages and other homeownership programs with low down payments and protecting the renting tenant. 

Tenant Protection and Rent Stabilization Measures

tenant protection and rent stabilization measures

Research is ongoing into if tenant protection and rent stabilization are effective measures for mitigating displacement.

What evidence suggests is that rent stabilization helps the poorest remain but not those with moderate to middle incomes.

There is even the fear that it is exclusionary since it does not improve the ability of residents to access accommodation everywhere in the neighborhood.

Tenant protections do not improve access to accommodation that needs investment in social housing

Community Land Trusts and Cooperative Ownership Models

Across the US, governments and non-profit organizations help low-income families rent their own homes.

However, once they vacate, the rent subsidy is voided and the rent dramatically increases.

Community land trusts sell or rent homes on land they own, usually to keep that housing affordable in perpetuity.

They are non-profit organizations run by and for the community. With housing co-ops, they are an alternative to those unable to access the traditional housing markets. 

Inclusive Zoning and Planning Practices

inclusive zoning and planning practices

Inclusive zoning and fair planning practices can advance social equity.

They encourage the production of affordable housing units often as a percentage of new developments.

This is in exchange for greater density, other units offsite or in the spirit of involving the community, a contribution to public funding that will benefit the whole community in some way.

The aim is inclusive growth with housing opportunities for all across the community. It is a fair share approach to new housing.

Fact: Due to gentrification's greater investment in public safety and community development, crime rates can go down. 


What is gentrification AP human geography? Gentrification is a multifaceted socioeconomic phenomenon with far-reaching effects in AP Human Geography.

While it may result in better city services and higher property values, gentrification often forces low-income residents out of their homes and changes the character of their communities.

If policymakers and urban planners want to create welcoming, sustainable, and egalitarian urban environments for all citizens, they must first understand the complex nature of gentrification.