Neighborhoods with generational Mexican American populations may have high levels of block Social Cohesion and neighborhood Sense of Community. Streetcar-focused development via federal and local investment often spurs gentrification in neighborhoods with ethnic concentrations, which shifts neighborhood demographics towards more White and higher income households. The new residential and business investment in the neighborhood often has an impact on existing neighborhood social dynamics. This study includes mixed methods resident survey data of long term and newer residents. The qualitative data analysis informs quantitative data analysis in order to better understand resident descriptions of the impact of neighborhood streetcar focused gentrification on social factors in a generational Latino/Latina neighborhood at one point in time just before the streetcar opening. Specifically the study seeks to: (a) provide a description of generational and new resident experiences with block Social Cohesion and neighborhood Sense of Community; (b) determine differences (between Latino/Latina households and those with children present and other study participants) in block Social Cohesion, neighborhood Sense of Community, and Involvement in Neighborhood and Voluntary Associations; and (c) determine what factors predict neighborhood Sense of Community. The study highlights the Latino/Latina residents’ maintenance of a strong ethnic identity, generational neighborhood based social ties, and ongoing involvement in neighborhood schools and religious traditions that contribute to a strong neighborhood Sense of Community. Newer residents report being drawn to and supporting the maintenance of the neighborhood Sense of Community.
Key Take Away Points
Neighborhood Social Cohesion (SC), Involvement in Voluntary and Neighborhood Associations, Latina/Latino households, and households with children present are assets that positively predict Sense Of Community (SOC) within a historic Mexican American neighborhood in a gentrifying southwestern city.
Latina/Latino households and households with children present do have different (most frequently higher) SC, SOC, and Involvement in Voluntary and Neighborhood Associations scale items due to their strong maintenance of a strong ethnic identity, generational neighborhood based social ties, and ongoing involvement in neighborhood schools and religious traditions.
Generational Mexican American residents strongly identify with the neighborhood, have strong commitments to stay in the neighborhood, have maintained a high concentration of generational residents, and have the support of new residents and developers to maintain the neighborhood assets.
Despite the likely weak social ties between generational and newer residents the value attributed to the historic residents, their culture, and ongoing neighborhood cultural events may result in maintaining the strong neighborhood SOC despite national trends that displace populations that occupied the land prior to several waves of gentrification.
Laurie worked as a community organizer in low-income neighborhoods with a high concentration of public and affordable housing units. She was given the Emerging Scholar Award from the Association for Community Organization and Social Administration in 2014.
This research was funded by research start up funds at Arizona State University and the University of Montana.
Walker, Laurie A.; Littman, Jesse; Riphenburg-Reese, Amanda; and Ince, Devra
"Predicting Sense Of Community in a Historic Latino/Latina Neighborhood Undergoing Gentrification,"
Journal of Family Strengths: Vol. 16
, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol16/iss2/3