Housing boom can help bring affluence to the inner city

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Decade by decade since 1970, the proportion of middle class neighbourhoods has fallen

A new study of the history of Hamilton neighbourhoods says the city has become one of Canada’s most segregated cities by income.

 But the study, led by McMaster geographer Richard Harris suggests Hamilton’s housing boom and the new desirabilty of older neighbourhoods can help change that.

Ironically, it is the sustained decline and poverty of those central and lower city neighbourhoods over several decades that has turned them into housing bargains — in urban settings that are now seen as attractive to more affluent buyers.

“The long term decline of many of Hamilton’s older neighbourhoods has created what, to many potential gentrifiers, appears to be a very affordable stock of housing,” says the study.

Dramatic divides between the lower city and upper city, but primarily between west end and the east end, took root in the 1970s and increased in the following decades, the study says.

“No city showed more clearly than Hamilton the consequences of deindustrialization, the polarization of incomes and the consequent polarization of neighbourhoods.”

“But just lately, the patterning, if not the degree of inequality has begun to shift. Hamilton is on the cusp of change,” says the study.

The starting point of the study is 1970, when, says Harris, most Hamilton neighbourhoods were middle class. Today more are either rich or poor.

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Article and image source: CBC Hamilton

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