Derek Hyra is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs and Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Center at American University. His research focuses on processes of neighborhood change, with an emphasis on housing, urban politics, and race. He is a leading expert on gentrification and equitable neighborhood development policy.

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CURRENT PROJECTS

Derek Hyra currently has several ongoing investigations related to some of the key social, political, and economic challenges facing urban America.

Role:
Principal Investigator
Years:
2017 - 
Awarded Grants From:
The Rockefeller Foundation, The American Council of Learned Societies

In the 1960s many American cities burned as social unrest was ignited by urban renewal, police brutality, and an economy that expanded but did not sufficiently reach certain vulnerable and disadvantaged populations. While we have experienced much stability in urban America since the riots of the 1960s, in 2014, 2015, and 2016, three major riots occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, Maryland, and Charlotte, North Carolina, all triggered by police action. Since these more recent riots, we have witnessed urban protests around the country and calls for an end to police brutality targeting African Americans. This research seeks to understand how other 21st century dynamics, beyond police action, undergird today’s riots, protests, and political instability. This research will contribute to our understanding of the linkages among urban policy, race, and democracy in the United States.

Role:
Principal Investigator
Years:
2016-2019
Awarded Grants From:
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, under its Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program, supports MPC’s gentrification research. MPC director Derek Hyra leads a three-person project team with Mindy Fullilove, a professor at The New School, and Dominic Moulden, the resource organizer for Organizing Neighborhood Equity – ONE DC. Their project entitled, “Making the Just City: An Examination of Organizing for Equity and Health,” investigates, over a three-year period, different processes designed to reduce health disparities in two communities currently experiencing gentrification: Orange, NJ and Shaw, DC. The research team’s objective is to discover, document, and assess community-level mechanisms in different contexts that help make mixed-income communities more vibrant engines of healthy living, particularly for low-income people. See Housing Policy Debate article on this project.

Role:
Principal Investigator
Years:
2017 - 
Awarded Grants From:
Metropolitan Policy Center

In many neighborhoods, gentrification — defined as neighborhood change caused by the influx of middle-class residents — does not result in residential displacement, but rather political displacement. A sizable proportion of long-term, low-income residents are able to stay in place because of policies that promote greater affordable housing. These new mixed-income neighborhoods, however, often lead to a loss of political voice for long-time residents. Minority groups who were well-represented at the local levels might find themselves losing seats on city councils, county commissions, and community boards as new constituencies and coalitions form among the newcomers. This study analyzes the relationship between newcomer influx and political loss in 100 US cities that contain some of the country’s fastest gentrifying neighborhoods. Using 20 years of local election data, we identify and measure the extent to which political displacement has occurred alongside inner-city neighborhood redevelopment. This study will help determine how the contemporary wave of gentrification relates to changing urban political shifts.