And so what is wrong with gentrification?

imgres-1Gentrification is defined as is a process of renovation and revival of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of influx of more affluent residents, which results in increased property values and the displacing of lower-income families and small businesses.

Many would say that gentrification is a villain.  We have seen massive gentrification in cities across the globe.  The anger against gentrification has blocked growth that was in the process of making many of these neighborhoods better places to live.  The phobia around this is evident from protests at local community boards and pushing back of any type of development.  I get it but there has to be a smarter way.

In the end, history has shown that gentrification always wins.  What can we do to insure that as neighborhoods change and increase the value of land to make sure that many of the people living there can continue to remain while enjoying the valuable changes such as better schools and stores.  This is not a simple issue.  I am seeing communities push back so hard against gentrification that the land will soon lose value as people won’t want to buy there because of the backlash of being unable to upgrade a neighborhood.  The long run is that those rabble rousers are destroying their neighborhoods and turning them backward.

I’d love to see local government figure out how to embrace gentrification with laws that come with it.  Creating spaces for the community and making sure that there are a percentage of middle income or low incoming housing to remain and perhaps be subsidized for a period of time.  There just has to be a better way.  The gentrification that has happened as we have seen the urbanization of many cities has pushed out people who can no longer afford to live there.  That has created anger and frustration on both sides of the fence.  I’d like to see a community who has figured this one out.


Comments (Archived):

  1. pointsnfigures

    You are right, there are no easy answers. No one has done it right, but maybe that’s because what works in NYC doesn’t work in other places. Each city is a microcosm. I am a big fan of gentrification. Yes, I feel empathy for the previous residents that get crowded out because of the cost. That’s a symptom, not the problem. One solution is to have good public transportation so people can get to the area.In Chicago the West Loop was full of crime and hookers. Oprah moved in and it gentrified. Now it’s hot. Pilsen is going through a gentrification process as is Logan Square. Gentrification makes crime go down. Gentrification increases property values and brings people to the city that otherwise might not have been there. However, we are losing millennials to other states. (Property taxes, high cost of living and screwed up govt)It seems to me that whenever government gets involved to mandate something-it gets more screwed up. If government creates a broad principled based policy that it evenly administers, markets take over and it is better. You can buy big lots in Chicago in horrible neighborhoods for a few dollars. Problem is there is too much government involvement in deciding what goes there-and too much crime so there isn’t demand.Changing education might help (vouchers and charters) in the long run.

    1. LE

      crime go downCrime will go down anytime the % of people with money exceeds a certain percent of the neighborhood. [1] The only issue appears to be that the crime is not going to change for people that have to move out (because of rent increases) to a less desirable area. I don’t think anyone can really dispute this phenomena.In Philly my cousins owned an old abandoned building that they bought in the 80’s [2] and the city was constantly hassling them because of all of the crack addicts, breakins and what was perceived to be a fire risk. They finally tour the buildings down (was several of them). Taxes were low, so they just had a vacant lot sitting there with nominal carry costs. Honestly they had no dreams that it would ever go up in value. The area was that bad and it wasn’t particularly near the center city area. Last year while doing some research I saw that they sold the building. According to public property records they got $3.5 million for it. Someone is going to build millenial housing on the lot.You can buy big lots in Chicago in horrible neighborhoods for a few dollars.With a 20 to 30 year time frame it would be good for someone in their 20’s or early 30’s to do that.On the other hand look at what has happened in Atlantic City. Nothing. All of the crappy areas are still bad. And downbeach (parts of Ventnor, all of Margate, all of Longport) things have been good for a long long time and keep going up. Literally only a few miles from Atlantic City, same beach.Honestly why doesn’t AC go up in value? Nobody wants to be around all of the poor people. (Really). Hasn’t changed and hard to see how it will.[1] I don’t know the % but I know it when I see it. For example in many if not most parts of manhattan you simply feel safe walking around. What could be called the riff raff are a small and outnumbered portion same really in what everyday people would refer to as the ‘nice’ areas of any major city.[2] For their business. But it was to much of a crime ridden area to operate in so they never used it.

  2. Jlix

    There is a FANTASTIC podcast called THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD that deals with gentrification specifically in Brooklyn– it shows the human face on both sides. Terrific journalism:

    1. Gotham Gal

      Interesting. Will check it out

  3. panterosa,

    In many ways, gentrification is the Inherit the Wind moment reflected large in this election, the answer to which is always continuous improvement so that one does not fall behind to begin with. I’m starting to want a name for the opposite of the silver bullet – the future facing daily work as opposed to the “prince, come rescue me! I am helpless…” that many resort to once they find things turning exponentially against their powers to fix.I realize the death by 1,000 cuts which result in the neighborhood going to seed, or not even keeping up, are often subtle. As a New Yorker, I’ve seen the waves wash in and out. I want the individuals, communities, and local government to realize what the line is which going below causes unstoppable, accelerated erosion – and stand firm to not cross it. What does that look like?