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American cities should be more concerned about spreading poverty, not gentrification

American cities should be more concerned about spreading poverty, not gentrification.

Gentrification is one of those topics that is difficult to write about. Simply mentioning the word or hinting at its existence is sure to stir the pot and draw a wildfire of comments, both defending and condemning it. What is often left out of the discussion, however, is that the gentrification we all imagine in our minds when we hear the word is essentially confined to just three metropolitan regions in America. As a result, the bigger concern for most cities should actually be their widespread poverty. More from Vox:

That share of people living in high-poverty neighborhoods isn’t huge — around 8.9 percent of all Americans living in poverty in 2010, according to US Census Bureau data. But the population of high-poverty neighborhoods has doubled since 1970, from 2 to 4 million. Over that same period, the US population as a whole grew by around 50 percent. In addition, the number of high-poverty census tracts in cities nearly tripled from 1,100 to 3,100.

As City Observatory highlights, we often think of gentrification as a big threat to urban areas, driving up the cost of living for people living in poorer areas and eventually forcing them out. You would think that’d lead to a lot of these neighborhoods rebounding out of poverty, albeit with mixed consequences for people there originally. But it appears the bigger threat by far is neighborhoods remaining mired in poverty and new neighborhoods falling into it.