Tanya Golash-Boza, University of California, Merced
Hyunsu Oh, University of California, Merced
In 1991, the homicide rate in Washington, DC peaked at 80 per 100,000 – the highest rate of all cities in the United States ever, earning the nation’s capital the moniker, “Murder Capital.” The rate of homicide and violent crime has steadily decreased since 1991. Research on the effects of violent crime indicates that Black residents are often unable to leave neighborhoods with high rates of violent crime. Yet, in Washington, DC, Black residents left in droves. Beginning in the 2000s, White residents moved into neighborhoods that had been ravaged by violence and poverty in the 1990s. Many neighborhoods that were nearly all Black in the 1990s now have significant White populations. Most research on the relationship between gentrification and crime considers how gentrification affects crime rates. Conversely, this study asks: are high crime rates a precursor to gentrification and Black displacement? We define Black displacement as a greater than median loss in Black population and gentrification as a greater than median increase in home value. Through a regression analysis using a merged data set of Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime data, Census data and American Community Survey data, we find that there is a significant negative association between violent crime in the 1990s and a change in Black residents. Those Census tracts with high levels of violent crime in 1990 were more likely to see a decrease in Black residents over time. We also find that there is a significant positive association between violent crime in the 1990s and change in home value. Those Census tracts with high levels of violent crime in 1990 were more likely to experience an increase in home value over time. Based on these findings, we argue that high levels of violent crime were precursors to Black displacement and gentrification in Washington, DC.
No extended abstract or paper available
Presented in Session 177. Racializing the American City