Using GIS to Visualize Displacement Risk in Durham

Every fall, groups of students in the Advanced GIS course at the University of North Carolina are tasked with creating a meaningful map using a variety of GIS-based tools acquired throughout the course. Inspired by recent city and county comprehensive plans and analyses, as well as rapid growth in nearby Durham, NC, one team of four UNC Department of City and Regional Planning (DCRP) master’s students decided to develop a displacement risk index for Durham County, NC, highlighting the level of displacement risk that marginalized communities may face as a result of future development. The methodology used for the displacement risk index was adapted from the Seattle 2035 Growth and Equity Analysis, a 2017 Southwest Boston Risk of Displacement analysis completed by Tufts University researchers, and the 2016 Los Angeles Index of Displacement Pressure.

A displacement risk index is an increasingly popular tool for cities and counties interested in understanding how area growth and development may disproportionately affect marginalized communities. The index is based on a tailored combination of demographic, economic and physical factors that increase an area’s risk of future displacement. Once each indicator has been assessed using statistical and GIS functionalities, a composite score is created to determine an overall risk score for a particular geographic area. The Seattle 2035 Growth and Equity Analysis Displacement Risk Index composite map is provided below as an example.

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Seattle 2035 Growth and Equity Analysis Displacement Risk Index. Source: Seattle Office of Community Development. 2016.

Using similar methodology, the DCRP students developed a displacement risk index for Durham, NC that included eight primary indicators: people of color, educational attainment, low-income households, housing tenancy, housing cost-burdened owners, housing cost-burdened renters, proximity to transit, and proximity to parks. Each indicator was assessed at the U.S. Census block group level, using specific criteria that related to the county average. For proximity to transit and to parks, a quarter-mile radius was used. For each indicator that was determined to be higher than the county average or beyond ¼-mile radius, a displacement risk score of 1 was awarded. A final displacement risk score combining all indicators, from zero to eight, was then calculated. Block groups with higher composite scores represent marginalized areas within Durham County that are most at-risk of displacement as a result of future development. The final displacement risk index for Durham County, NC developed by the DCRP students is provided below.

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Displacement Risk Index for Durham County, NC. Created by: Travis Crayton, Katey Mote, Margaret Tartala, Stephanie Tepperberg. 2017.

The findings from this analysis could be used by the City and County of Durham to develop and implement policies that help to promote equitable development and mitigate future displacement risk, particularly for already marginalized communities. Since publication of this map for this course, the methodology is being replicated for use in future NC-area plans.

This GIS project was completed by Travis Crayton, Katey Mote, Margaret Tartala, and Stephanie Tepperberg as part of an Advanced GIS course at UNC in the Fall of 2017.

Featured Image: James Willamor. Creative Commons. Downtown Durham, North Carolina. 2014.