Can renewal happen without removal? Case study of a poor black neighborhood on the rebound

Wesley L. Meares, John I. Gilderbloom, Gregory D. Squires, Tobin Williamson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


During the latter half of the twentieth century, many inner city neighborhoods with majority black/African American populations fell into decline, neglect, and crime. East Russell, an inner city neighborhood in Louisville, Kentucky, was no different. It was ranked as one of the most dangerous and impoverished neighborhoods in the USA. In 1992, with no previous precedent, community leaders wanted “renewal” without population displacement. Currently, scholars question if “renewal” can happen without removal. We examine the East Russell case to better understand this possibility. Utilizing data from the Jefferson County Property Valuation Administration, the US Census Bureau, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and a recent neighborhood charrette, we examine the conditions of the neighborhood from 1992 to 2012. We find that the efforts of the revitalization did have some successes: 575 housing units were renovated, homeownership increased, property valuations increased, crime rates declined sharply, single automobile usage fell, foreclosures were among the lowest in the city, and employment increased. While revitalization brought benefits, there are still issues that need to be addressed. Our findings contribute to the current debate that this type of place-based policy is possible without population dispersal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-132
Number of pages22
JournalCommunity Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2015


  • community development
  • revitalization
  • urban renewal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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