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Zoning, Gentrification, and Affordable Housing: A Classroom Simulation and Set of Assignments
Apartment buildings
Cover Page
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affordable housing
classroom activity
local politics

How to Cite

Crubaugh, Bryant. 2023. “Zoning, Gentrification, and Affordable Housing: A Classroom Simulation and Set of Assignments”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, November. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


In this simulation, students work through the legislative process of rezoning a part of a nearby city and grapple with their decision’s impact on gentrification and the provision of affordable housing. The resource provides a specific example in Long Beach, CA using a documentary, zoning maps, and specific proposals based on that location, but the...

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Subject Area(s):
Community, Political Sociology, Public Policy, Social Change, Urban Sociology
Resource Type(s):
Assignment, Class Activity
Class Level(s):
College 300, College 400
Class Size(s):
Medium, Small

Usage Notes

See resource for full usage notes. 

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. Goal 1: Students should engaged in the complexity of zoning and how it matters for neighbors and community change.
  2. Goal 2: Students should be able to reflect on the impact of their role and how classmates in different roles see the same situation differently.
  3. Goal 3: Students should be able to analyze how zoning and related policy decisions are important mechanisms in creating inequality.
  4. Goal 4: Students should be able to evaluate who has power and how community input can influence and ultimately affect or be ineffectual in the zoning and community development process.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. Assessment 1: The assessment of this is in the written assignments and active participation in the simulation. In writing and in the simulation, this goal could be assessed by evaluating students’ ability to grapple with the specific changes and what that would do on the ground to the residents, present and future. If students see it as a simple change...
  2. Assessment 2: In the writing and the class participation, students who meet this goal are able to see the situation from their role and to articulate why they support the changes or not based upon their role’s specific positionality. If the student provides general suggestions of support or change, not based at all on the specifics of their role, they are...
  3. Assessment 3: In the writing, and in the simulation depending upon their role, students should be able to connect the policy decisions to broader systems of inequality. The assignment asks for this and the ability to analyze the connection between zoning and inequality may be assessed through both the role response and the follow-up reflection. If there...
  4. Assessment 4: This goal is often accomplished through participation in the simulation and can be assessed in the reflection in-class or in the follow-up reflection assignments. Students who make connections between who has voice in the policy process and why that is or what that means for real world policy do well to meet this goal. Students whose...

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Cover Page
Requires Subscription PDF

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