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Climate gentrification is reshaping coastal cities

Last year, Jesse Keenan, Thomas Hill, and Anurag Gumber of Harvard University, published a research paper called, Climate gentrification: from theory to empiricism in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

What they were trying to uncover was a possible relationship between climate change and single-family home pricing in places, like Miami, that are vulnerable to sea level rise and flooding. This phenomenon is colloquially referred to as “climate gentrification.”

One of the things that they uncovered through their work was, in fact, a positive correlation between the rate of price appreciation of single-family homes in Miami-Dade County and incremental measures of higher elevation. In other words: there’s value in higher ground.

Recent reports (like this one from the WSJ) that Little Haiti in Miami is experiencing a surge in investment, seem to, at least partially, support this finding. Little Haiti sits about twice as high as Miami Beach, which is only about 4 feet above sea level.

Here is a diagram from the WSJ showing the change in home prices since 2018:

I’m not sure that this diagram necessarily reinforces the above finding. Mid-Beach in Miami Beach is shown as having an 8% gain, and yet it sits, like pretty much the rest of the Beach, within a 100-year floodplain. But already Miami is looking to manage the impacts of, “gentrification that is accelerated by climate change.”

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