New Research Finds Transit Development Has Limited Effect on Displacement

Research published in Housing Policy Debate, Investigating Transit-Induced Displacement Using Eviction Data,” finds limited evidence that new transit development increases eviction rates in surrounding neighborhoods. The findings run counter to the popular belief that transit development causes widespread gentrification and displacement, though policymakers still must consider potential housing market impacts when devising transit plans.

The study tests a common hypothesis that transit development will increase gentrification and displace lower-income residents due to increased property values. The researchers selected four cities – Newark, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis – that built or extended a rail line between 2006 and 2009 to assess whether eviction rates increased in neighboring block groups following the transit development. The researchers employed a difference-in-differences research design to compare eviction trends before and after transit development between block groups within one-quarter mile of a new rail line (treatment group) and similar block groups further away (control group). Analysis was conducted through 2016. The researchers used data from the Eviction Lab to calculate eviction rates and used data from the Center for Transit-Oriented Development to identify cities with new rail development. All selected block groups were “gentrifiable,” meaning the neighborhood was low-income and had previously experienced disinvestment.

In three out of the four cites, the researchers found no effect of new transit development on eviction filings. In St. Louis, the researchers found a moderate effect of transit development on eviction filings, but this occurred during the 2007-2008 financial crisis. Eviction filing rates fell to previous levels in both the treatment and control group following this spike.

These findings add to a growing body of research that transit-oriented development may not have a significant effect on displacement and gentrification, contrary to common assumptions. Nonetheless, the effects of transit development are nuanced and context-specific. Policy makers should consider specific local housing market pressures and potential effects on neighborhood culture and demographics when developing transit-oriented plans.

The article can be found at: