IMG-7248 (1) - Sharon Yavo Ayalon.JPG

Sharon Yavo-Ayalon 

Postdoctoral Associate

Jacobs Institute Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech


Towards an Urban Displacement Simulator - A Microsimulation for Predicting the Demographic Changes Caused by Privatization


Within the discourse of displacement and gentrification, this lecture will turn the spotlight to the privatization of once publicly funded affordable housing. Based on the Roosevelt Island case study, we developed a microsimulation that follows the conversion from affordable to market-rate units and predicts the expected demographic changes each year between 1976-2070. By combining information from the American Community Survey, the island's masterplan, the privatization agreements, and interviews with residents, the simulation produces interactive graphs at three urban scales: the neighborhood, the project, and the individual building. We found that while the households of market-rate units are gradually becoming younger and more affluent, the households of affordable units are becoming older and more impoverished. That despite an individual agreement for each building, the demographic changes will be similar in all of them, and that, those changes will affect low-income buildings first. Moreover, upon expiration, 30% of the existing protected tenants will be over 65 and at risk of being displaced. Based on these findings, we warn that the cumulative demographic change of privatization processes might be as dramatic as those of the sixties' urban renewal projects.



  1. Shai Sussman, Eng. Master Student,The Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, Israel

  2. Daphna Levine, Architect, Ph.D. Student, The Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, Israel

  3. Meirav Aharon Gutman, Sociologist, Assistant Professor, The Faculty of Architecture and Town Planning, Technion, Israel



Sharon Yavo-Ayalon is a Postdoctoral Associate at Cornell Tech, developing visualizations and simulations to achieve social impact in planning. Currently, she has been focusing on mapping NYC social distancing stories and the demographic changes resulting from privatization processes. Her Ph.D. explored the linkage between urbanism and art and the manner in which local identity, spatial (in)justice, and social (ex-in)clusion are forged or deconstructed by artistic activity in cities. This research was awarded the President of Israel’s Grant for Scientific Excellence and Innovation. She received her Ph.D. from the faculty of Architecture and Town Planning at the Technion IIT, where she graduated summa cum laude BArch and MSc.