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First published in research by Jesse M. Keenan, an Urban Development and Climate Adaptation researcher at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, the term “climate gentrification” refers to climate change’s role in reshaping real estate markets. As with urban gentrification, these climate-driven shifts could potentially displace millions of residents in cities around the country.
Keenan, tracking the rate of price appreciation for over 250,000 residential properties in Miami-Dade County since 1971, found that properties at high elevations exhibit patterns of faster appreciation, namely due to non-climate factors. However, he also identified that the connection between elevation and price appreciation has strengthened since 2000. In an interview with CBS MoneyWatch, Keenan suggested this may be a sign of a growing preference for properties at higher elevations and a response to the very real risk of flooding in the area.
“This is real,” Keenan stated. “There are actual people spending lots of money thinking about how to make money from climate change. We have to come to terms with this sooner than later.” As Keenan emphasizes, “climate gentrification” extends to the entire country and each region’s particular climate change, such as the wildfires in California and hurricanes in New York.
As properties in areas least affected by climate change grow increasingly expensive, millions of residents could be priced out of their communities. Where will these Americans go, and how can they defend themselves against rapidly appreciating rents and home prices?
In a housing market with perpetually rising prices, increasing mortgage rates and a depleted inventory, not to mention persistent cases of redlining, the restrictive effects of “climate gentrification” only serve to further tie the hands of Americans with historically limited choices.