How gentrification is affecting housing prices in Milwaukee

How gentrification is affecting housing prices in Milwaukee

The word gentrification stirs up a variety of responses in all groups of people. This is especially the case in the main cities with neighborhoods that have had dramatic rehabilitation. Renewal is typically a positive thing, and yet it can have its consequences. So what exactly is gentrification and in Milwaukee, should we be concerned or heartened by restoration levels that are taking place? What impact does gentrification have on our housing markets?

In 2015, Governing magazine took on the subject of the impact of gentrification on America’s 50 largest cities, Milwaukee included. In their analysis, they define the issue and examine places where it’s most evident, particularly at the census level. They also consider the impact gentrification has on specific neighborhoods and residents.

From what the researchers at Governing found, gentrification is defined as a lower-income area where home values and incomes are increasing at an extremely fast rate. In particular, they refer to a census tract as being gentrified if the median household income, as well as the median home value, have been in the bottom 40th percentile of all the tracts that are in the same metro area since the year 2000. The area is also considered gentrified if, since 2000, it has been in the top third percentile in terms of growth of both home value and the percentage of adults who hold bachelor’s degrees.

According to their analysis, of 132 low-income census tracts in Milwaukee, 16 have been gentrified since 2000. This includes 7 tracts that are located in the adjacent neighborhoods of Riverwest and Harambee, as well as 3 Bayview tracts. The other 6 tracts are scattered throughout various city neighborhoods.

Their data shows that gentrification is on the rise in a smaller percentage of lower-income neighborhoods in Milwaukee than the average throughout the largest 50 U.S. cities. In Milwaukee, since 2000, 12.1% of lower-income census tracts have gentrified, compared to almost 20% of lower-income tracts in the 50 largest U.S. cities during the same period.

Perhaps the area most affected by gentrification in Milwaukee is the Riverwest neighborhood. Currently, there is a median listing for homes in this area of $166,000, with a price per square foot of $120. There are some new-construction buildings where condos are going for upwards of $240,000. By all estimations, this area is virtually entirely gentrified. In 2003, for example, rents were around $300 for a one-bedroom apartment.