Abstract for:Towards Environmental Justice: Balancing Urban Greenspace and Gentrification

Over half of the world’s population lives in cities. This shift towards urban living provides city planners with a unique and complicated challenge: how to build infrastructure to balance the social, economic, environmental and health-related needs of a large population in a small area. Greenspace, which can include anything from large parks to a few trees lining the road, is a favorite in the urban planner’s toolkit as it is correlated with improvements in a number of community indicators from health to social interactions. This improvement, however, is accompanied by a more sinister set of dynamics: gentrification. Wealthier families are drawn in by the now more attractive neighborhood. Their influx drives up rent prices, and the original population is forced to leave. This systems dynamics model explores methods of greenspace implementation that could create greenspace’s benefits without engendering its consequences. Tests explore concepts of “just green enough,” setting rent caps and implementing greenspace on a small-scale over time. Ultimately, the model demonstrates the most ideal behavior when greenspace is implemented incrementally every few years, in several communities at once. These results offer a feasible potential solution to implementing greenspace without displacing neighborhood residents.