Australia

AHURI releases report examining household impacts of gentrification

THE Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) last month released a new report examining the household impacts of neighbourhood change and gentrification in Sydney and Melbourne.

The report, authored by Rowland Atkinson, Maryann Wulff, Margaret Reynolds and Angela Spinney, aims "to offer insights into the way that socio-economic migration in Australia's cities is affecting the position of low-income households."

According to the report, gentrification has become evident in many metropolitan areas across Australia, producing shifts in the socio-demographic composition of centrally located neighbourhoods.

The report seeks to address three key issues:

  • 1. The level of gentrification and household displacement that has occurred over the last decade;
  • 2. The social and economic costs to communities and low-income households in these neighbourhoods; and
  • 3. The policy implications of gentrification to State housing and Federal government agencies.

Areas such as Yarraville and Richmond in Melbourne and Paddington and Newtown in Sydney are citied as examples where "significant migration by high-income professional households have raised prices and rents by significant margins."

Consequently, the authors find that neighbourhood change in these areas has resulted in impacts including the dislocation of low-income earners, reduction of social diversity and changed communities and service infrastructures that do not always cater for lower income residents.

While the gentrification process can create perceptions of an 'improved' neighbourhood, the authors suggest that "the reality may be that poorer groups are thinned out or re-sorted through the housing system—often into private rental and public housing elsewhere."

"The 'gain' of higher income households to one political jurisdiction, thought of in 'global' terms, may be cancelled out by the migration of lower-income displacees to others."

The authors argue "that localised policy responses are unlikely to be particularly effective" and instead recommend the need for "concerted action by State planning and housing authorities."

The report, 'Gentrification and displacement: the household impacts of neighbourhood change', by Rowland Atkinson, Maryann Wulff, Margaret Reynolds and Angela Spinney, is available for download from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (AHURI) website at <http://www.ahuri.edu.au/>.

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