A neighborhood’s “phase” of gentrification may be predictive of certain health disparities among residents, per research presented at the American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo, held November 10 to 14 in San Diego, California.

Alyzza Dill-Hudson, MPH, a program analyst at the District of Columbia Department of Health, working with the DC Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) initiative, sought to describe recent changes in neighborhood health following gentrification in the District of Columbia (DC). A total of 30 neighborhoods experiencing gentrification were selected for analysis. Neighborhoods were classified as “highly” or “moderately” gentrified based on median household income, black resident population, and level of education; neighborhoods were continuously assessed for changes in these characteristics during 2010-2016. Neighborhood health indicators per the HP2020 priority topic areas were analyzed over the same data attainment period. A Mann-Kendall trend test was performed to determine significance levels of observed correlations.

At an 80% confidence level, 76.9% of highly gentrified neighborhoods improved in social determinants of health-related outcomes, including a decline in unemployment rates. Improvements in social determinants of health were observed in 29.4% of moderately gentrified neighborhoods. The violent crime rate improved in 61.5% of highly gentrified neighborhoods and 47.1% of moderately gentrified neighborhoods. The proportion of residents with health insurance coverage increased in 61.6% and 47.1% of highly and moderately gentrified neighborhoods, respectively. Finally, the suicide rate declined in 7.7% of highly gentrified neighborhoods, compared with 11.8% of moderately gentrified neighborhoods.

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These figures highlight the differences in priority health outcomes which manifest across gentrification stages. To meet the DC HP2020 population health goals — including lower unemployment rates, greater insurance coverage, and reduction in violent crime — future research must explore how observed improvements differ between original and new/incoming residents.

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Ms Dill-Hudson emphasized that while health outcomes are improving at a District-wide level, many neighborhoods have a trajectory well below that of the DC HP2020 goals. By quantifying the health trends seen in neighborhoods experiencing gentrification, she hopes to elucidate which elements of neighborhood health require attention from public health professionals and legislators. Moving forward, Ms Dill-Hudson said, further research is necessary to understand the equitable distribution of health improvements among original and new/incoming residents and to identify means of “[preventing] the displacement of [original] residents.”

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Dill-Hudson A. DC Healthy People 2020: The impact of gentrification on priority population health outcomes. Presented at: American Public Health Association 2018 Annual Meeting and Expo; November 10-14, 2018; San Diego, CA. Abstract 4343.0