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Tracking Neighborhood Change in Geographies of Opportunity for Post-Disaster Legacy Cities

A Case Study of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Raúl Santiago-Bartolomei, Deepak Lamba-Nieves, and Enrique A. Figueroa

January 2022, English

While legacy cities have had a long struggle with deindustrialization, population loss, fiscal constraints and economic decay, many will likely need to address compounding stressors stemming from climate change, specifically the devastating effects of natural disasters. Using the San Juan Metropolitan (SJMA) as a case study, we provide key insights on how a post-disaster context affects underlying tendencies, specifically in housing markets, through regression analyses that identify pre- and post-disaster neighborhood change across geographies of opportunity. Our findings show that disaster impacts have strong associations with segregation, housing affordability, gentrification, and neighborhood decline. These findings suggest that postdisaster reconstruction should explicitly focus on improving the spatial distribution of opportunities. These baseline results that will help improve scenario planning exercises in Puerto Rico by incorporating the disruptive potential of natural disasters in housing markets.


Climate Mitigation, Community Development, Development, Disaster Recovery, Housing, Local Government, Scenario Planning