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This research project, supervised by David Wachsmuth as part of a Master of Urban Planning at McGill University, explores the intersection of immigration and gentrification as they relate to formal and informal policies and processes affecting East Harlem, a gentrifying neighborhood in New York City with a large immigrant population. Previous research into immigration and gentrification allude to a correlation between the two, but a gap exists when identifying exactly how they affect each other and, in particular, how immigrants with vulnerable status are affected throughout the gentrification process. The report draws on past research into immigration policies in the United States, the current housing climate in New York City and State, as well as interviews with professionals working with immigrants and housing processes to determine the role for undocumented immigrants within the current landscape. While measures exist in place to protect the rights of immigrants with varying degrees of status, the present system does not enforce these protections and, coupled with a market-driven housing system, undocumented immigrants are more likely to face discrimination in all stages of the housing process, limiting their ability to participate in ongoing gentrifying processes. This study has thus identified housing – its policies, regulation, and the market forces – as the underlying link between immigration and gentrification and as a system that disproportionately disadvantages tenants with vulnerable immigration status. It further identifies potential avenues to address this imbalance as including action at the individual, community, and policy levels.

Read full report here.

Undocumented in El Barrio:

threats, vulnerabilities, and resources for undocumented residents in gentrifying East Harlem

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