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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 - 2023
Awarded Grants From:

This is one of the first projects to properly place police brutality within the context of harmful urban renewal policies that consistently displace and destroy Black communities. In Slow and Sudden Violence (University of California Press 2024), I weave together a persuasive unrest narrative, linking police aggression to an ongoing cycle of racial and spatial urban redevelopment repression. By delving into the real estate history of the St. Louis region and Baltimore, I show how housing and community development policies advance neighborhood inequality by segregating, gentrifying, and displacing Black communities.

 

Despite moments of racial political representation, repeated decisions to “upgrade” the urban fabric and uproot low-income Black populations result in pockets of poverty inhabited by people experiencing chronic displacement trauma and unrelenting police surveillance. These interconnected sets of divestments and accumulated frustrations erupt powerfully in response to tragic, unjust police killings. To confront the core components of U.S. unrest, I urge that we must end racialized policing, stop Black community destruction and displacement, and reduce neighborhood inequality.

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 (2016- 2019), 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 40 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.

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