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Are there any neighborhoods in D.C. that aren’t currently being gentrified?


Keep in mind that definitions of neighborhood gentrification vary, but they generally mean an area is, in some combination, becoming richer, becoming whiter, attracting lots of new developments, or displacing local residents and businesses. The first three criteria here are a lot easier to track than the fourth.

At the risk of reductionism, there are basically two kinds of neighborhoods that aren’t being hit by gentrification in D.C.: those that are already wealthy, and those that are staying poor. Most neighborhoods in the first category are west of Rock Creek Park, and some are not only not gentrifying, they’re actively resisting attempts at new development. The changes that are occurring there are the opposite of gentrification: According to census data, neighborhoods like Friendship Heights and Hawthorne grew less white between 2010 and 2000, while Chevy Chase dropped down from the highest income category. Much of Ward 3 also saw a reduction in the number of households over this period. Middle-class black neighborhoods also aren’t seeing a ton of change. Hillcrest remains overwhelmingly black and in a middle income category above most of its Ward 7 and Ward 8 neighbors. Likewise, Ward 4’s Shepherd Park stayed in the blackest and wealthiest categories.

Then there are the neighborhoods that could use an economic jolt but aren’t seeing one. This category encompasses most neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, which remain stuck in the lowest income range. Some, like Fairlawn and Benning, have actually dropped down from a middle income range to the lowest one.

A map of new residential construction bears these trends out. The overwhelming majority of this construction is taking place in wards 1, 2, and 6, with some in Ward 5. Change-resistant Ward 3 and economically lagging wards 7 and 8 have a few projects in the pipeline, but nothing that could be termed a new wave of gentrification.