‘Weak‐Center’ Gentrification and the Contradictions of Containment: Deconcentrating Poverty in Downtown Los Angeles


This case study of recent efforts to deconcentrate poverty within the Skid Row area of Los Angeles examines processes of ‘weak‐center’ gentrification as it applies to a ‘service dependent ghetto,’ thus filling two key gaps in prior scholarship. We document the collaboration between the government, business and development interests, and certain non‐profit agencies in this process and identify two key mechanisms of poverty deconcentration: housing/service displacement and the criminalization of low income residents. Following Harvey, we argue that these efforts are driven by pressures to find a ‘spatial fix’ for capital accumulation through Downtown redevelopment. This process has been hotly contested, however, illustrating the strength of counter‐pressures to gentrification/poverty deconcentration within ‘weak‐center’ urban areas.