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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Transition areas : a study of location factors affecting low-income housing Policzer, Irene


Transition areas located at the fringes of Central Business Districts are, in most cities, one of the important residential location options for the lowest income groups. The dynamics of city growth result in a process of abandonment of those areas by the high income groups and occupation by the poor; most neighborhoods in those areas have a low level of housing maintenance and low rental values. Some housing programs, such as NIP, RRAP, attempt to improve the housing conditions of the poor by upgrading the housing stock in those areas. It is felt that, by subsidizing housing repairs and neighbohood improvement programs, two objectives can be achieved: better housing for the poor and neighborhood stability. At the same time, there is evidence in some North American cities of a reversal of the suburbanization process: some medium-to-high income groups which traditionally tend to locate in suburban areas, now are locating in old-central neighborhoods. The houses are extensively renovated, and some of these areas are gradually becoming new middle-to-high class residential districts. This trend raises some concern with respect to the effects of this process on low-income residential options. Although there is some evidence that the gentrification process may produce dislocation problems for the poor, there seems to be little agreement as to the significance of this problem and the type of housing policies that would be more appropriate to ensure adequate housing for the poor in areas undergoing gentrification. This research has four major objectives: 1) To identify the role of transition areas on low-income residential location. 2) To identify those variables that can explain the gentrification process in central neighborhoods. 3) To assess the effects of gentrification, particularly on low-income residential location options. 4) To assess the effects of housing and neighborhood improvement subsidies on low-income location in gentrifying areas. The method chosen was that of theoretical research. A review of different bodies of location theory was used to derive a conceptual location model which combines economic, socio-ecologic and dynamic components of residential location. The model, in turn, was applied to analyze the four research areas listed in the objectives. As a general conclusion drawn from the analysis, it is suggested that the gentrification process defines a planning situation characterized by conflicting goals and long-term uncertainty. The analysis provided some insight as to the type of uncertainty involved, the nature of the goals conflict, and some indicators that can be useful for housing policy in gentrifying areas. Since the gentrification process appears to be very recent in Canada, most of the evidence presented- in this research is based on US literature. However, the approach taken has attempted to focus on those variables that would appear to be more applicable to the Canadian scene. The model presented in this research can be used for a number of planning purposes, one of which is measuring and understanding the occurrence and significance of gentrification in Canadian cities.

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