Perceptions of Residential Displacement and Grassroots Resistance to Anchor Driven Encroachment in Buffalo, NY

This article examines perceptions of institutional encroachment and community responses to it in Buffalo, NY. Specifically, we focus on residents’ perceived effects of anchor institution (e.g. hospital and university) expansion on core city neighbourhoods. Through this analysis we offer insights into the processes driving neighbourhood displacement in the contemporary period. Data were collected through a series of focus groups with residents and other stakeholders in working class, minority neighbourhoods which were identified as being in the early stages of neighbourhood revitalization. A total of nine focus groups were held across three neighbourhoods experiencing encroachment due to institutional investments. The focus groups were held during the fall of 2017. The data were coded and analysed using ATLAS.ti software. The analysis was guided by standpoint theory, which focuses on amplifying the voices of groups traditionally disenfranchised from urban planning and policy processes. The findings from the analysis highlight how the expansion of anchor institutions transforms the built environment, neighbourhood identity, and everyday life in urban communities. Residents perceived change brought on by institutional encroachment as relatively unabated and unresponsive to grassroots  concerns. On balance, residents perceived the benefit of neighbourhood revitalization accruing to anchor institutions while low-income, minority
residents cope with negative externalities in a disproportionate manner. This led to heightened concerns about residential displacement and concomitant changes in their neighbourhoods’ built and social environments.