Willow Lung-Amam, Ph.D. is Associate Professor in the Urban Studies and Planning Program and Director of Community Development at the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD). Her research focuses on the link between social inequality and the built environment, particularly in neighborhoods undergoing rapid racial and economic change. She has written extensively on immigration, suburban diversity and poverty, gentrification, redevelopment politics, and geographies of opportunity, including her book Trespassers?: Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia. Her research has appeared in numerous journals, books, and media outlets, including the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun, and has been supported by the Ford Foundation, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and other national foundations and agencies. Prior to joining UMD, Dr. Lung-Amam worked with non-profits, public agencies, and private firms on issues of public housing, community development, and neighborhood planning.


Project Summary

Over the past several decades, as poverty in U.S. suburbs has grown, municipalities have increasingly adopted policies to “retrofit” them into more walkable, mixed-use, and compact places. The Right to Suburbia examines the struggles over the redevelopment of low-income minority and immigrant communities in the Washington, DC suburbs. In three case studies, it shows how communities organized to resist gentrification-induced displacement and claim a more equitable stake in suburbia’s future. The book is among the first to explore gentrification in U.S. suburbs. It will inform the literature on metropolitan inequality, suburbs, and equitable development and provide lessons for redevelopment policy and planning.


Major Publications

  • Lung-Amam, Willow. 2017. Trespassers?: Asian Americans and the Battle for Suburbia. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Lung-Amam, Willow. 2019. Surviving Suburban Redevelopment: Resisting the Displacement of Immigrant-Owned Small Businesses in Wheaton, Maryland. Journal of Urban Affairs. DOI: 10.1080/07352166.2018.1555439.
  • Lung-Amam, Willow, Eli Knaap, Casey Dawkins, and Gerrit-Jan Knaap. 2018. Opportunity for Whom? The Diverse Definitions of Neighborhood Opportunity in Baltimore. City and Community 17, 3: 636-657. DOI: 10.1111/cico.12318.