For our final civic comparison this season, let’s take a deep dive into the issue of gentrification. Between 2010 and 2015, Dallas experienced far greater population growth than Philadelphia, 8.5 percent compared to 2.7 percent. And population growth is normally a telltale sign of gentrification; if a neighborhood isn’t growing, it’s doubtful there will be a corresponding increase in property values that attracts developers.
What is interesting, though, is that Dallas has experienced significant growth, but is not necessarily more gentrified. “Even though Dallas has a roughly equal poverty rate as Philadelphia, it has a much smaller proportion of Census tracts eligible for gentrification,” says Professor Richardson Dilworth of Drexel’s Center for Public Policy, citing Governing magazine data from here and here. “That’s because, to qualify as gentrification, a neighborhood’s population growth has to come from people who are wealthier and who thus attract higher property values.”
What does this mean? “Of the small number of higher income people moving into Philadelphia as compared to Dallas, the people moving into Philadelphia are far more likely to be moving into lower income neighborhoods,” says Dilworth. “Why? My guess is that the density of Philadelphia means that lower income neighborhoods here are more likely to be located nearer to higher income neighborhoods than in Dallas, which is more sprawling.”
Another metric worth looking at in individual neighborhoods is the change of racial composition. Dilworth points to one study that identifies the fastest gentrifying neighborhoods in the country by measuring their change in racial makeup between 2000 and 2010. On that list, Philadelphia zip code 19123 is represented—Northern Liberties/Fishtown—with a 21 percent increase in white residents. While a Dallas neighborhood is also on the list, there’s a caveat. “The Dallas zip code is actually a sort of sparsely settled warehouse area where there appears to have been some new housing—that’s a very different type of gentrification,” says Dilworth. “Also, racial change in neighborhoods in Dallas is very different than here, since Dallas’s racial composition is more Latino and foreign born, and may not be as reliable a measurement of gentrification.”
Dallas Idea To Steal: Texas Competes
When, in reaction to North Carolina’s discriminatory HB 2 law—commonly referred to as the “bathroom bill”—the NBA moved its all-star game and the NCAA relocated the Final Four in protest, it cost the state of North Carolina nearly $200 million.
In Texas, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick and others want to pass a similar anti-trans bathroom bill. A coalition of Texas employees, chambers of commerce, and business associations, formed in 2015, just might be the last line of defense against such an eventuality. Texas Competes is a consortium of over 1,000 pro-business entities that together makes the bottom-line case for an LGBT-friendly Texas. Texas Competes doesn’t lobby for legislation or make a moral argument for inclusive policies. Instead, Texas Competes seeks to keep Texas competitive and economically vibrant, and argues that it’s in the state’s economic self-interest to be LGBT-friendly.
Of course, Philadelphia is a city, not a state, but, according to Dilworth, the Texas Competes model would make for an interesting local undertaking. “For our purposes, one issue Texas Competes raises is when it is appropriate or better for a city or metro area to pursue a progressive policy, and when it is better to do it statewide,” Dilworth says. “Creating economic competitiveness via LGBTQ-friendliness ironically would work better for a city if the state overall were less tolerant, as Pennsylvania likely is compared to Philly.”
That does it for another Civic Season, which saw Philly rack up 10 civic wins. Thanks, as always to Professor Dilworth and to you—for caring enough about our city to engage in this exercise each week.
Connor Barwin is the Eagles defensive end and runs the Make The World Better foundation, which works to refurbish city parks.
For more information on this data, see the Civic Season Explained page.
Note: The Eagles play Washington, D.C., New York and Dallas twice this season, but we only count each city once in the Civic Record.