Gentrification — a controversial, buzzy and politically wrought term — is used to describe the process of a neighborhood becoming wealthier and all the signifiers that come with that shift. (The pros and cons of D.C. gentrification have been discussed at length on this Web site.)
In its February issue, Governing magazine used Census data to determine which neighborhoods are gentrifying in D.C. — and in the 50 largest cities across the country — and which neighborhoods could gentrify, but haven’t yet.
For the purposes of the report, Governing said a Census tract was eligible to gentrify if its median household income and median home value were both in the bottom 40th percentile of all tracts within a metro area. Then, to see if that area gentrified, Governing adjusted the home values for inflation, calculated the percentage of adults with college degrees and then determined if those increases were now in the top one-third percentile for both barometers when compared to other tracts in the area. The magazine used 2000 Census data and 2009-2013 data from the American Community Survey.
So, according to Governing, how many D.C. neighborhoods gentrified since 2000? A lot.
• Total number of Census tracts in D.C.: 179
• Not eligible to gentrify: 75
• Gentrified: 54
• Did not gentrify: 50
• Percentage of eligible tracts that gentrified: 51.9 percent
Portland, Ore., was the only city in the country to have a higher percentage of eligible Census tracts gentrify than D.C.., with 58.1 percent of its eligible tracts gentrifying. Minneapolis, Seattle and Atlanta rounded out the top five and were not far behind D.C.
By comparison, between 1990 and 2000, only 4.9 percent of D.C.’s then-eligible tracts gentrified.
Here’s an example of just how drastically some of these D.C. neighborhoods changed. Census tract 87.01 — which covers much of Eckington between North Capitol Street NE and 2nd Street NE bound by Rhode Island and Florida avenues NE — had a median home value of $414,100 in 2013. That represents a 158 percent increase, after inflation, from the median home value in 2000. In 2000, only 20.6 percent of adults in that portion of Eckington had a college degree. In 2013, 38.1 percent did.
Columbia Heights, NoMa, Navy Yard and Petworth, now considered some of the trendier neighborhoods in D.C., are examples of some of the other areas that have gentrified. (And, yes, if you live in D.C., you don’t need a map to tell you the dozens of other neighborhoods that have gentrified.)
The District’s rapid gentrification is largely spurred by an influx of young, relatively wealthy, new residents. Between 2009 to 2012, the Washington region saw a bump of about 12,583 millennials each year — more than any other metropolitan area.
Unsurprisingly, all but five of the neighborhoods that gentrified were west of the Anacostia River, though the vast majority of those Ward 7 and 8 neighborhoods east of the river could be gentrified, according to Governing magazine’s measurements.
It’s worth taking a look at these interesting interactive maps of D.C. on Governing’s Web site to see which neighborhoods have gentrified — and which are likely to be next.