Mar 9, 2015

Richmond’s black population fell from 35,300 in 2000 to 22,800 in 2013, a 35-percent drop that suggests gentrification is occurring, according to findings from researchers at the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

The research says gentrification is in its early and middle stages in some Richmond areas. While the city’s black population is dropping, Latino and Asian American populations have been increasing. The white population in Richmond has remained stable, according to the report.

As Richmond becomes more desirable, low-income residents are becoming priced out. Some 6,740 renters, about 37-percent of all Richmond renters, earn less than $35,000 annually and spend more than 30-percent of their income on housing, the report indicated.

More than 80-percent of residents in North Richmond and in most of the central and south Richmond areas are renters, it found.

“These facts raise concern that if regional trends of accelerating housing prices and persistent inequality hit Richmond, a substantial part of the city could be vulnerable [to gentrification],” the report stated.

The Haas Institute held a housing summit in Richmond on Feb. 20 to present the research and host a discussion on how to move forward. They determined that inclusionary policymaking at the city level can stem the tide of gentrification.


  1. Mike…
    I have to wonder how much of Richmond’s black population loss might be attributed to bad mortgages that preyed on people that desperately wished to own their own home yet, in reality, were ill-qualified to buy. I believe suburbs like Pittsburg and Antioch experienced an influx of blacks in the 2000 to 2007 period, when bad mortgages were being created in a frenzy. Its troubling to think that people of all races were lured from communities like Richmond to new suburban homes, only to ultimately lose them in foreclosure.

    Maurice Abraham | Mar 9th, 2015
  2. Gentrification is not just about investors buying out the once predominantly black neighborhoods, real estate agents have a big hand on keeping minorities out of the housing market. There are discriminatory practices such as steering and redlining that do not get challenged because of not enough transparency in real estate. Agents will not even consider an FHA loan if they have cash buyer or conventional loans, (1) because FHA loans takes longer to process and (2) FHA loans require repairs and thorough inspections to process. Agents descriminate against minorities that need down payment assistance by not even giving them a chance to be considered. Condos are also letting FHA building recertification lapse to keep FHA buyers out of their neighborhood. Competition in Richmond for a house is high, with agents pricing homes under market value to generate a bidding war. One property on Gonzaga Ave (Fairemede-Hilltop) generated over 20 offers, only to be taken out of the market and the next day repriced for 50k more with a disclosure that seller will not take FHA loans. Agents also play favorites on which offer to take by going with an agent within their office for a split commission. Richmond realtors in turn form a clique that controls who gets the property…but more often it’s about who gets paid this week.

    Claire | Mar 9th, 2015
  3. Interesting input. From the broker, agent and sellers viewpoint, it sounds like its more about maximizing the money than it is about deliberate discrimination. The effect, however, is the same.

    Maurice Abraham | Mar 10th, 2015
  4. Gentrification has a lot to do with transportation. Hubs like El Cerrito Del Norte, West Oakland and Richmond can save people money and time when they live close to these stations, in fact many employers’ subsidies employees cost when they use public transportation. This obviously creates a desire to live close to a hub and that leads to gentrification. It is ironic that the so called progressives have pushed this process faster than anyone else. The end results are murals that celebrate who use to live here not who do live here. Go in the Fillmore and the Mission in San Francisco or West Oakland and you will see glaring examples of this type of hypocrisy. Mostly white folks walking around but the images on the murals are of ethnic groups who have been forced out. This is reminiscent of our romanticized view of the Native Americans. Some people don’t realize what is happening while others are checking their real estate values with glee.

    Charles Smith | Mar 11th, 2015
  5. No surprise, the “progressive” “green” agenda currently running Richmond loves to see older
    mostly socially conservative, mainly Christian Blacks move out….they are wise to the elitist
    “progressive” agenda

    Marilynne L. Mellander | Mar 12th, 2015
  6. Curious as well that the so-called “green” “progressives” have so little concern about putting high density development along the waterfront with no concern for increasing much needed wetlands as the Bay continues to rise. Also don’t see much solicitation for solar businesses and solar skills training that could put so many of the unemployed in Richmond to work, while I have a suspicion that most of the high density development is not going to be interested in training local people of color to work in their businesses, especially Black people. It seems like kind of classic “I’m not a racist” racism, the kind who don’t hold themselves accountable for vicious injustices, blaming them instead on the system which is all the while under their control.

    Amy Sletteland | Mar 12th, 2015
  7. Come on these communities where originally white and then the blacks moved in and done what they done in detritus ruined it

    tim jones | Apr 17th, 2015
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About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.