Green Infrastructure and Gentrification: Harness the Benefits, Avoid the Displacement

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Green infrastructure—including rain gardens, green streets and green space—provides stormwater management and climate adaptation benefits to communities. In spite of these environmental benefits, some residents are concerned about their role in green gentrification and contribution to displacement pressures. A recent study by the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) shows that green infrastructure increases nearby property values. While this may be a benefit to homeowners, increased property values can also negatively impact housing security for renters, seniors, and other vulnerable groups. 

Members of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange (GILE) have identified a number of equitable development practices that can mitigate these impacts and ensure that communities stay in place to enjoy the benefits of green infrastructure investments. These include community engagement, partnerships, and approaches that incorporate other strategies (e.g. housing, transportation and more) as part of green-infrastructure planning efforts. 

Watch this session—hosted by the Urban Waters Learning Network Equitable Development and Anti-Displacement Collaborative on April 20, 2023—to hear more about the work that the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) and the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange (GILE) are doing related to equitable green infrastructure implementation. 

Meet the Panel of Experts:

Jen McGrawDirector, Sustainability Innovation—joined CNT in 1999, leads CNT’s strategy to promote sustainable anti-poverty solutions for communities and manages CNT’s West Coast office. She has led projects analyzing the property value impacts of green stormwater infrastructure and helping communities translate those findings into anti-displacement strategies. Jen is a Board Vice President of the Planning and Conservation League in California. Jen has a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and bachelor’s degrees from UC Santa Cruz.


Barbara Hopkins is a lawyer and landscape architect who serves as Executive Director of the Green Infrastructure Leadership Exchange, which activates local governments and water agencies in the US and Canada to equitably implement green stormwater infrastructure. She previously served for 13 years as Executive Director of NeighborSpace of Baltimore County, an urban land trust, and earlier as the Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Baltimore City Community College.


Jess Smith is a stormwater engineering supervisor at Kitsap County Public Works. She focus on the stormwater assets to ensure they are functioning optimally, and when there are failures she leads the design to retrofit what is needed.  Jess has lived in the PNW for 11 years, working at different stormwater engineering sectors – private, public, and nonprofit. Prior to moving out here, Jess went to school at the University of Iowa for civil/environmental engineering, studio art, and public health. After graduation, and before moving out west, she lived in Peru for 2 years doing water and sanitation work with the US Peace Corps. Jess loves to explore, work outside in her garden, hang out with friends, and stay active.

Beatrice Ohene-Okae is an Environmental Protection Specialist with the District of Columbia’s Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE). As a member of DOEE’s Green Infrastructure Incentives and Assessment Branch, she manages the CRIAC Nonprofit Relief Program and supports operations of the District’s Stormwater Retention Credit (SRC) Trading Program. Beatrice also serves as the co-chair of DOEE’s Equity Committee. Beatrice holds a B.A. from the University of Mary Washington and an M.S.L. from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law with a specialty in Environmental Law.