Back-to-the-City Movement Webinar

The Back-to-the-City Movement and

Process of Political and Cultural Displacement

Presentation by Derek S. Hyra Virginia Tech

Wednesday, February 5
12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Preinkert Field House – Conference Room 1112V
University of Maryland College Park


CM I 1.0


While certain U.S. cities are still depopulating, others have seen a reversal of aggregate out-migration patterns. This phenomenon has been termed the back-to-the-city movement and it has been associated with neighborhood redevelopment. Some urban scholars, political figures and real estate boosters celebrate this urban population influx, as it will likely increase property values and broaden municipal tax bases; however, we know little about the social costs associated with the back-to-the-city movement. Dr. Hyra has investigated the consequences of the back-to-the-city movement through a three-year (2009-2012) ethnographic case study of the revitalization of Washington, DC’s Shaw/U Street neighborhood. The redevelopment of this iconic African-American neighborhood is associated with the city’s 5.2 percent population increase, which occurred between 2000 and 2010, mainly among whites. While some residential displacement has occurred, certain affordable housing policies help to keep a sizable proportion of long-term, low-income residents in place as their neighborhood redevelops. This presentation will highlight that neighborhood revitalization can have important political and cultural implications often overlooked by the urban planning field.

DEREK S. HYRA is an Associate Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Virginia Tech. His research focuses on processes of neighborhood change, with an emphasis on housing, urban politics and race. Dr. Hyra is the author of The New Urban Renewal: The Economic Transformation of Harlem and Bronzeville (University of Chicago Press 2008). He is currently completing his second book, which investigates the topics of race, class and politics in Washington, DC’s redeveloping Shaw/U Street neighborhood. Dr. Hyra has received grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and his research has been showcased in both academic journals, such as City & Community and Urban Affairs Review, and popular media outlets, including the British Broadcasting Corporation, Chicago Public Radio, C-SPAN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he worked at the U.S. Department of the Treasury, investigating the predictors and consequences of the subprime lending crisis, and at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where he examined the community-level impact of national urban legislation, such as the Community Development Block Grant, the Empowerment Zones and the HOPE VI program. A former resident fellow of Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute, Dr. Hyra has taught at the University of Chicago and Brown University. He is also a research affiliate of the National Poverty Center, an affiliated scholar of the Urban Institute, a member of the Alexandria (Virginia) Planning Commission, and the senior associate editor of Housing Policy Debate. He received his B.A. from Colgate University and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.