Brownfields redevelopment and gentrification: A socio-economic evaluation of the EPA Brownfields Pilot Program
The purpose of this study to answer the question of whether the Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Pilot Program unintentionally contributed to the gentrification of areas near brownfield redevelopments. Using Smith's (1979) rent-gap theory, this study hypothesizes that investment in redeveloping brownfields results in a socio-economic change within areas near redeveloped brownfields. Specifically, the change involves the in-migration of higher income residents and the out-migration of minority and low-income residents. To test this hypothesis, this project used a two part methodology to study EPA Region7: 1) a cross-sectional analysis and two-sample t-tests measured the extent of environmental injustice near brownfields prior to receiving funding; and 2) involved a longitudinal analysis and MANCOVA to investigate the changing socio-economic character of areas near brownfields following redevelopment. By using 1990 Census data at the block group level, the cross-sectional analysis provided evidence of environmental injustice within a 0.5 mile buffer of brownfields. The longitudinal analysis, using data from the 1990 and 2000 Census, and the 2009 American Community Survey 5-year estimates, found that the changes observed in 10 socio-economic variables does not provide evidence of gentrification. In conclusion, funding provided by the EPA Brownfields Pilot Program in Region 7 did not result in the gentrification of areas surrounding brownfield redevelopments.