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How does gentrification affect mental health? (this is my research question)

* I am basing my proposal on Washington Heights, Manhattan. (New York) 

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*The proposal needs a minimum of 3 scholarly sources -a maximum of 5. I will attach an article that I used for a previous homework so you can get familiar with the place. This is not a scholarly source it’s just to be familiar with the place.


* It will be great if you choose one or two mental health problems such as anxiety, distress, or depression. Also, use a specific population such as long-time residents or look at the examples attached.

* I will attach the proposal outline + two examples of how the proposal should look like. Thank you!


Research Objective and Question: This is where you set up your project at along a broad general interest and pose your research question?

Background: This is where you describe your field site with information relevant to your topic and question. Why is it ideal to answering your question?

Literature Review: Discuss your scholarly source and tell your audience what your case will add to this literature.

Methods: What will you do to collect your data and how will it answer your research question? Be specific about what you will do and what your timeline to carry it out will be.

Expected results: What debates do you expect your research to contribute to? What are impacts your research will have to a broader public?

I’ve put this flowchart here for your reference as well:

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Gentrification is an issue concerning both economic and social debate. However, for certain, gentrification is on the rise more than ever before. Historically denied minority groups now have the right and freedom to buy and own property. They have bought land and settled into their own communities and neighborhoods. Unfortunately, solely having the right to own land will not deter gentrification from taking place. Minority homeowners, specifically black homeowners, are greatly being affected by gentrification. Most importantly, the rising issue of gentrification initiated not only by Caucasians, but driven by other minorities as well. While scholars have done research on gentrification, studies have yet to expand on the effect it has on black homeowners. Moreover, little research on gentrification has been in areas with high black homeownership. It is crucial to analyze the challenges imposed on them and allow them to speak on issues affecting their community. I aim to study how does gentrification affect black homeowners mentally, economically, and socially.

The study will be conducted in East Elmhurst, a neighborhood in New York, affluent in black homeownership. East Elmhurst is described as a “neighborhood of Cape Cods and small stucco homes” (Berger). Located in Massachusetts, Cape Cods is known for its big houses with a white picket fence. Comparing East Elmhurst to it implies the neighborhood is more of a middle-class one. This area is where the first African Americans could buy houses in the 1970s, and one of the few places where blacks enter and not be ostracized. After purchasing, they never left. East Elmhurst has residents with the longest tenure. It is relevant to African American roots in East Elmhurst and its centrality in African Americans’ social mobility. While people in New York tend to move around following any flow of income that comes their way, East Elmhurst residents tend to stay in place. “It took their last dollars to buy their house, and they want to protect that house” (Berger). The previous African American landowners made advancements towards creating better schooling, forms of transportations, and more senior centers. It is described as a “stable” neighborhood and gives off the feeling that it will be around for a long time. Perhaps since East Elmhurst was built on a strong foundation, African Americans’ efforts will be long-lasting. If it were not for the developments carried out by the first African American families that moved to East Elmhurst, the neighborhood wouldn’t be the way it is now. However, over the past decade, the district has undergone gentrification. Due to the high rate of black homeownership and residents having a great appreciation for their neighborhood, East Elmhurst is an ideal fieldsite. Despite the high black population and deep roots in African American history, it is not susceptible to gentrification. The percentage of black people continues to decrease with time.

Regarding the economic effect gentrification has on minorities, Michelle Boyd touches on how depending on class difference, minorities are disproportionately impacted by gentrification. He explores the idea of middle-class African Americans used as a tool to promote tourism. Specifically, “those who support attracting middle‐class blacks to the community see their financial and personal investment as a form of race uplift” (Boyd). Boyd uses the term “Black gentrification” to highlight gentrification with African Americans as the perpetrators. Furthermore, affluent blacks threaten to displace the neighborhood’s long-time residents. It is gentrification promoted and carried out by African Americans, which contradicts the conventional notion of whites against communities of color. On the other hand, while black homeowners may help drive gentrification, it is important to recognize how affluent African Americans can also be on the receiving end on gentrification. As is happening in East Elmhurst, middle-class blacks are also being driven out of their communities—same as the low-income.

In the article “Impact of gentrification on adult mental health,” researchers emphasize the psychological stress residents experience in a gentrifying or gentrified neighborhood. They discovered adults living in a gentrified and upscaled neighborhood had increased risks for severe psychological distress compared to adults living in low-income and non-gentrified areas. Gentrification disrupts community relations, implements feelings of cultural displacement, and destroys social network, contributing to residents’ mental instability. Economically vulnerable adults living in gentrifying areas had greater levels of depression and anxiety (Tran). However, the study excluded homeowners, high-income residents, and recent residents. It failed to consider the perspective of minority homeowners who are also being negatively impacted by gentrification. There is the experience of minority homeowners being pushed out non-minority homeowners, and it is imperative to dive deeper into it.

Social gatherings work as a way for people to feel a sense of belonging and a lack of displacement. Specifically, congregations play vital social roles in cities, “including building bridges between residents, providing community services, and injecting a moral tone in their neighbors” (Camino). Richard Cimino mainly focuses on how gentrification impacts congregations in minority neighborhoods. Churches act as a social space for bonds of religious members to strengthen. They are essentially a social community giving stability to religious members even as neighborhoods are gentrified, helping residents navigate neighborhood changes. However, when minority members are forced out of their settings, religious social networks are severed. Gentrification changes the relationship of congregations to their neighborhoods. While this may be the case, it is vital to focus on how religious black homeowners are affected by gentrification. Especially in East Elmhurst, where in the early-mid 1900s there was an influx of African Americans, there is a large quantity of Black Baptist churches in 2020. While renters may move around, homeowners typically stay in place, allowing them to establish firm connections with congregations. Homeowners, specifically black religious homeowners, will be disproportionately impacted.

I plan to focus on black homeowners in East Elmhurst, but I want to sample from a church, showing it as an institution. In East Elmhurst, the black population continues to dwindle, and other minority groups are moving in. However, there is still a high population of blacks in East Elmhurst churches, even as the demographics change. Methods I plan to use include interviewing, interacting with people who inhabit the space, and analyzing public data. First, I will go to the church which I will sample from, First Baptist Church, to interact and engage with participants. I aim to observe by listening to church services, attending events, and participating in community services. I want to get close and establish a relationship with members of the church before interviewing. I hope to learn and gain insight into their personal experience. Next, through interacting with members of the church, I hope to find people who are homeowners. After gathering a list, I plan to interview a sample of at least ten religious black homeowners from First Baptist Church. Through the interview, I want to capture direct quotes, dive into the neighborhood’s culture, and their experience of living in East Elmhurst as a black homeowner. My questions will be gauged towards learning about alarming neighborhood changes, including gentrification, and how they have been impacted economically, mentally, and socially. With the goal in mind to utilize data, I will also obtain public information about the demographic changes taking place in East Elmhurst. Also, public records displaying the demographics of residents, as well as their homeownership and religious affiliation. I would like to analyze all the information I receive from my interviewees with the online data. I aim to explore commonalities, as well as significant differences. These methods would take place over a 6-month time period. By sampling black homeowners solely from a church comprised of Christians, particularly of the Baptist denomination, it may raise questions about whether religious black homeowners’ experience differs from non-religious homeowners. Another study could be done to see how the findings differ.

My study will contribute to gentrification’s overall analysis but emphasize how gentrification impacts minority groups differing in class and religion. While research has been done on gentrification, little has stressed gentrification driven by minority groups, affecting communities of color. And how not low-income groups, but affluent black homeowners are also familiar with gentrification. East Elmhurst is specifically composed of a high percentage of middle-class black homeowners. I will voice middle-class black homeowners’ experience in a conversation usually directed towards low-income minority groups as victims. Also, the role of churches in gentrification has yet to be widely discussed. I hope to also bring to the surface how black churches act as a structure of stability and security in changing communities with rising tensions.

Works Cited

Berger, Joseph. “There Stays the Neighborhood.” New York Times, 7 Jan. 2011. 

Boyd, Michelle. “The Downside of Racial Uplift: Meaning of Gentrification in an African

American Neighborhood.” AnthroSource, vol.17, no.2, 2002, p.265-288. 

Cimino, Richard. “Neighborhoods, Niches, and Networks: The Religious Ecology of Gentrification.” Wiley Online Library, vol.10, no.2, 2011, p.157-181. 

Tran, Linda Diem. “Impact of Gentrification on Adult Mental Health.” Health Services  

Research, vol.55, no.3, 2020, p.432-444. 


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