Displacement in Harlem Due to Gentrification

Middle School  Grade 8/7

Allary Montague





“People bury the parts of history they don't like, pave it over like African cemeteries beneath Manhattan skyscrapers.”
― Alyssa Cole, When No One Is Watching


A picture containing text, building, outdoor, street

Description automatically generated


Gentrification: noun

  1. the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process.

"an area undergoing rapid gentrification"

"soccer has undergone gentrification"

-          In a gentrifying neighborhood, when homes are vacated by low-income residents, other low-income residents cannot afford to move in because rents and sales prices have increased. This is also called exclusionary displacement.


Displacement: noun


the moving of something from its place or position.

"vertical displacement of the shoreline"


-          Displacement happens when long-time or original neighborhood residents move from a gentrified area because of higher rents, mortgages, and property taxes. Gentrification is a housing, economic, and health issue that affects a community's history and culture and reduces social capital.




-          In the last 20 years, Harlem has undergone a major gentrification process and as a result, many lifetime members of the community have been displaced. As a result, many Harlem residents feel that the rise of increasingly unaffordable luxury housing, lack of school improvement and limited job market demonstrates the absence of meaningful investment in the community.




-          You and your group will be assigned one of three major neighborhoods in Harlem (West Harlem 125th Street to 145th Street, East Harlem – El Barrio neighborhood, Central West Harlem – 127th street to 162nd Street west of Lenox Avenue).


-          Your group will be creating a Google Slideshow presentation in which you examine three aspects of your assigned area (food costs, housing costs, safety) both before and after the gentrification of Harlem began to take effect (use the year 2002 as your starting point).


-          Each slideshow must contain a minimum of 10 slides (include both a cover page and Works Cited page)


-          The final slide of your presentation must present a link to three viable solutions to the rising problem of Harlem residents being displaced due to gentrification.




It’s time for your group to become investigators!

        What is the current policy regarding gentrification? Who does this policy benefit? Does this policy address the displacement of Harlem’s lower income residents? Does the policy need to change?

o   STEP 1:  You will be placed in groups to complete the gathering of information for the PPA worksheets. Each member of the group will have a specific role. Your group roles are as follows:

o   **All group members are required to contribute to the completion of the worksheets AND completion of the presentation of the slides.**

o   STEP 2: Along with the information from your research, follow the Public Policy Analyst (PPA) 6 Step Process. Complete the worksheets and allow them to guide you with your slide presentation and bumper sticker project.

o   1. Define the Problem: Identify and explain the problem that you are researching. Ensure that you can convey why this condition is undesirable.

o   Resource 1

o   Resource 2

o   Resource 3

o   Resource 4

o    Gather Evidence: The goal of your research is to find proof that this problem actually exists. You can use statistics, primary or secondary sources, articles from newspapers or magazines, blogs, podcasts, etc.

Consider the following questions:

-          What is gentrification? What is displacement? Who is primarily affected by gentrification? Why do the current policies not work? What percentage of lower income Harlem residents are displaced as a result of gentrification (statistics)?


Group Roles: Captain-  The captain keeps the group on task, ask questions and facilitates the readings.

                       ReporterThe reporter presents the group's findings to the class.

                       RecorderThe recorder records all written responses.

                       Materials Manager- This person gets the supplies and makes sure they are working, they put all supplies away once activity is over.

                      Time keeperI keep track of how long my group has to complete the assignment, I will tell the group how many minutes are left every 10 minutes



        You will create a series of three to four questions on the topic of Gentrification in Harlem and interview at least 5 faculty/staff members. All interviews should be documented and included in the final presentation.

3. Identify Causes: Why do some children become obese? What are some of the consequences of obesity? What groups are identified as high risk for this disease?

4. Evaluating Existing Public Policies: Find policies that already exist regarding displacement caused by gentrification. What do these policies say? Who do they benefit? Do they address the issue of how displacement can be prevented? Do these policies need to be changed?

5. Developing Solutions: Provide new/original public policy alternatives (solutions) for your social problem. What are some alternatives you think will solve or help with the problem that exists?


6. Select Preferred Policy: Ask yourself how realistic the proposed solution is? How likely would it be to lessen the problem? Are there any obstacles that can prevent it from working? Is there anything that can be done to overcome those obstacles?







8R1: Cite textual evidence to strongly support an analysis of what the text says explicitly/implicitly and make logical inferences. (RI&RL)

8R4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and

connotative meanings. Analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning, tone, and mood, including words with multiple meanings. (RI&RL)

8R5: In literary texts, and informational texts, compare and contrast the structures of two or more texts in order to analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to overall meaning, style, theme, or central idea. (RI&RL)

8R6: In literary texts, analyze how the differences between the point of view, perspectives of the characters, the audience, or reader create effects such as mood and tone. (RL)

In informational texts, analyze how the author addresses conflicting evidence or viewpoints. (RI)




Congratulations on a job well done! Now that you have a better understanding of displacement caused by gentrification in Harlem, you are that much closer to becoming a part of the solution. You will now be able to analyze articles, critique essays and offer a non-biased opinion.