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About Making the Just City

We're pleased to update members on our research grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Culture of Health" initiative, one of 15 projects selected throughout the country. Created in collaboration with Mindy Fullilove, MD and Derek Hyra, PhD (The New School and American University, respectively), our work focuses on gentrification & displacement in two communities, and the community-level initiatives being implemented to improve wellness among long-time residents facing displacement. Dominic Moulden, Resource Organizer at ONE DC, is the third member of this team.



Derek Hyra, PhD, American University
Mindy Fullilove, MD, The New School
Dominic Moulden, ONE DC

Core Assumptions/Hypotheses

  • Gentrification often leads to a reduction in affordable housing, displacement, and disruption of social ties
  • Gentrification leads to increased stress
  • Affordable housing and robust social ties are needed for healthy living
  • Community engagement is needed to address housing affordability and repair disruption in transitioning neighborhoods

Research Project

We hope to contribute to the preservation of affordable housing, rebuilding of social ties, and improvement in health by:

  • Learning about the stressors that residents experience in gentrifying neighborhoods
  • Facilitating exchange of knowledge regarding affordable housing and community building between a late-stage gentrification community (Shaw) and one that is in the early stages (Orange)

Research Questions

  1. What are the stressors people experience in redeveloping communities?
  2. How can community efforts preserve affordable housing?
  3. How do community efforts help to rebuild social ties among different racial, ethnic, religious, and class groups?
  4. How can the lessons learned from a community in late-stage gentrification influence one that is in the early stage of the process and vice versa?

Community Partnerships

Orange - Essex County, NJ Shaw - Washington, DC
Population: 34,134
Percent Black: 71.83%
Median Home Value: $238,000
Percent Homeownership: 21%
Percent BA or Higher: 22%
Median Household Income: $40,818
Population: 34,750
Percent Black: 30%
Median Home Value: $587,000
Percent Homeownership: 35%
Percent BA or Higher: 61%
Median Household Income: $83,302


An ideal community partner:

  • Respects the stories and life lessons of the residents
  • Builds power, capacity, and skills of the people
  • Brings resources, interns, and staff to the organization
  • Shares mission, vision, and values of the organization
About The University of Orange

About ONE DC

-Free people’s university in Orange, NJ​
-Established 2008​
-Mission: Enhance people’s ability to solve the problems of the world​
-“Everybody has something to teach, everybody has something to learn”
-Established in 2006
-Membership-organized structure
-Participatory action research guided
-Core Issues: housing, jobs, wellness, and community learning

Community-Based Participatory Action

Assumptions include:

  • People experiencing an issue are well suited to evaluate their situations ​
  • Information acquired with community participation is accurate and valid
  • Data gathered with community “buy in” is more likely to result in action and social change​​
  • Community partnerships are essential

Data Collection

  • Participant observation​​ (ongoing)
  • Inter-urban exchanges​ (4)
  • Exchange and travel of participants between two communities
    • Solidify research plan​
    • Become familiar with two sites​
    • Compare and contrast late-stage/early-stage gentrification​
    • Facilitate knowledge transfer
  • Individual interviews (20 per/community, 40 total)

Research Timeline

Spring 2017​

  • Hire research consultants from each site​
  • Host first “inter-urban exchange” in Shaw​
  • Kick-off participant observation​

Fall 2017​

  • Second “inter-urban exchange” in Orange​

Fall 2017 & Spring 2018​

  • With help from research consultants, complete 20 interviews per community and transcribe interviews​

Spring 2018​

  • Third exchange in Shaw​
  • Preliminary analysis​

Fall 2018​

  • Fourth exchange in Orange​

Spring 2019​

  • Finalize analysis and results​
  • Return to communities for presentation of findings

Potential Outcomes

  • Improved knowledge among research consultants on research design and methodology
  • Increased interactions between long-term residents and newcomers
  • A clearer understanding of the gentrification process by multiple stakeholders
  • Published journal articles on gentrification, housing, stress, and health

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