Suburban Poverty, Redevelopment, and Equitable Development Activism

One of Dr. Lung-Amam’s major research area explores the consequences of suburban redevelopment for disadvantaged communities. Over the past several decades, as poverty in suburbs has grown, municipalities have increasingly adopted policies to “retrofit” them into more walkable, mixed-use, and compact places. Her second book, The Right to Suburbia: Redevelopment and Resistance on the Urban Edge, which is currently under development, examines the struggles over redevelopment of low-income minority and immigrant communities in the Washington, DC suburbs. In three case studies, it shows how activists, small businesses, and other community leaders organized to resist gentrification-induced displacement and claim a more equitable stake in their communities’ future. The Right to Suburbia argues that suburban spatial, institutional, and political structures exacerbate the vulnerabilities facing disadvantaged groups in redeveloping neighborhoods. Yet activism has steadily built the capacity of communities to respond. The book is among the first to explore gentrification in U.S. suburbs. 

Related research has further examined how redevelopment has impacted vulnerable suburban communities. Dr. Lung-Amam has published articles examining the shifting geography of high-poverty neighborhoods in the DC region, the challenges of equitable transit-oriented development (TOD) in the region’s diverse suburbs, and how suburban poverty and racial change undergirded the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and Sanford, Florida. 

Her research has also supported the efforts of the Purple Line Corridor Coalition (PLCC) and Fair Development Coalition to promote equitable investments in communities along the Purple Line and put protections in place to minimize displacement. She helped to create the Purple Line Dashboard and story map, as well as the Langley Park Community Asset Map to track data and assets in Purple Line communities over time, and co-authored a Langley Park affordable housing strategies report and article on the value of community story mapping. Her research has also supported cross-sector coalitions’ efforts to improve health and environmental conditions in housing as well as police-community relations and safety in Langley Park, Maryland.

Semester / Year
2013 - Present

Team Members

Elijah Knaap
Research and Creative Practice Areas