Development of Gentrification and Its Impact On Society

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When cities began using urban renewal, it was aimed to make better living conditions in the urban, low-income areas. However, the revitalization of such neighborhoods attracted wealthier investors seeking capital gain. These revitalization projects led to the destruction of the homes of the poor. These homes then turned to business ventures with the overall neighborhood façade changing, moving in more affluent inhabitants. When the housing cost rises, this forces low-income minorities out of their homes to seek housing elsewhere. The influx of new business and lower crime rates results in less affordable housing. Original local businesses, clients, and inhabitants are forced elsewhere. The new affordable housing for the original neighborhood inhabitants is often sub-par. This process is called gentrification. The process of renovating and improving a house or a district so that it conforms to middle-class taste. The renovating of urban inner-city neighborhoods by means of the influx of more affluent neighborhoods. This renovation raises the overall surrounding property values. Gentrification should not be used as a way to raise property values because it displaces original tenants to lower level housing, which often leads to struggling minority neighborhoods.

How Does Gentrification Work

Gentrification starts out in urban neighborhoods and is carried out in four phases. The first phase of gentrification is called the startup phase. The startup phase is where investors come into the neighborhood and they like the urban feel and diversity of the neighborhood and they give offers for homes or businesses at a low rate. This low rate is often much less than what the inhabitant can actually get for the property. According to Dave Roos’s article “How Gentrification Works,” traditionally, these investors often come in to change the neighborhood to suit ‘urban pioneers’ (Roos, 2011, p. 1). Roos describes the urban pioneers as “usually young, educated, adventurous, predominately white, often artistically minded individuals who don’t fit the traditional demographic of the neighborhood.

As gentrification progresses, it moves into the second phase called the buy-in phase. The buy-in phase is where the urban pioneers come in. Rehabilitation and revitalization of buildings and homes begin to happen in this phase. With these changes being made, public notice of changes to the neighborhood increases. Small amounts of displacement of tenants begin to happen. According to Alan Ehrenhalt, in this phase of gentrification, the supply of condos and apartments are now becoming available. And this is where buildings start becoming costly for the original inhabitants, even with decent incomes (Ehrenhalt, 2017, p. 1). With the gaining demand for the gentrified housing, the original tenants of the neighborhoods are priced out of the neighborhoods because of an increase of property taxes and rent. They now move into other often farther from the city center.

By the third phase, gentrification is well underway. The third phase of gentrification is the take-off phase. This is where confidence in the gentrified neighborhood increases. People trying to get into these gentrified neighborhoods are willing to pay for sustainability. The gentrification process is continued until the neighborhood is completely changed. People who originally lived there sell their homes at lower prices not knowing the real worth of the property because they don't know about the rise in property values in the area. In this phase of gentrification, the property values soar and the urban feel of diversity that attracted investors because of the small shops and ‘mom and pop' shops begins to disappear because of these property values. These small shops are often replaced by higher-end stores and boutiques.

By the fourth phase of gentrification, the process is complete. This phase is called the fill-in phase. Property values and taxes have completely risen, and long-term residents have moved in while original inhabitants have been forced out because they can no longer afford costs of housing and the new local businesses in the area.

How Does Gentrification Affect a Community

Gentrification can affect a community either negatively or positively. Usually, the effects of gentrification are negative on the original inhabitants of the neighborhood and positive to the ‘gentrifiers' or those who have moved into the gentrified neighborhood. Gentrification affects the community by displacing original inhabitants which could lead to homelessness or mental health issues. Small local businesses are often put out of business by the new businesses that come in with the gentrifiers. Gentrification can also result in conflict between original inhabitants and gentrifiers. The community can also suffer from an overall lack of diversity and population loss. Due to diversity loss, minorities in the neighborhoods are often criminalized.

When the original occupants of the neighborhood are displaced, they are often told to move into cheaper section-8 housing. This housing is often in subpar condition and in an even more struggling neighborhood. In an article by Lisa Seville titled “NYC Section 8 residents talk about the horrors of affordable housing, fears of being forced out by money-hungry landlords,' she explains that 'Last year, more than 82% of voucher tenants lived in census tracts with poverty rates of 20% or more” (Seville, 2016, p. 2). Meaning, in New York City, 82-percent of the tenants with vouchers had to move into housing where the surrounding areas were impoverished.

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Generally, when the new occupants in a neighborhood move in, they want to help and better the neighborhood. These occupants are often wealthy people and start community projects such as community gardens to increase a sense of community, or implement neighborhood watch programs to try to build a sort of collective efficacy in the neighborhood. Even though the new neighborhood occupants are trying to help the neighborhood, they are really changing the neighborhood into what suits them. They are changing the urban feel that attracted them to the neighborhood into a more middle-class feel.

When the new people move into the neighborhoods, social dynamics and expectations change. With such projects like neighborhood watch in the gentrified neighborhoods, remaining original tenants of the neighborhood are often criminalized. The need for a feeling of safety is now needed by the new inhabitants in the neighborhood. According to Abdallah Fayyad, “Activity that was previously considered normal becomes suspicious, and newcomers—many of whom are white—are more inclined to get law enforcement involved. Loitering, people hanging out in the street, and noise violations often get reported” (Fayyad, 2018, p. 2). An incident which tried to criminalize a black person was documented in late 2018 in New York. Outside a corner store in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn a white woman, quickly deemed “Corner-store Caroline” called the police on a 9-year-old black boy for falsely groping her (Mays & Piccoli, 2018). In the video, ‘Corner-store Caroline' explains 'I was sexually assaulted by a child. The son grabbed my ass and she decided to yell at me,' she was referring to the boy's mother (Mays & Piccoli, 2018). If the bystanders wouldn’t have called out the woman’s ignorant and heinous actions, then the boy would’ve probably been listed as a sexual offender. The Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn has seen rapid amounts of gentrification in recent years, so the false 911 calls like this one are not as surprising when taking that into account but they are still disgusting.

When original minorities of neighborhoods that are gentrified are criminalized, it tends to be on a more stereotypical basis. Issues such as loud music, disturbing the peace, and being “suspicious” become more prevalent issues. The people who report these issues are often the affluent white people that have moved into the neighborhood and now feel uncomfortable with the level of diversity.

Gentrification also affects a community through cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of another culture. This can be controversial when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures. Cultural appropriation affects communities by devaluing the uniqueness of the minority community. This appropriation leads to further marginalization of the minority groups. According to Blights Out, when people move into a neighborhood for the ‘aesthetics' that is an example of cultural appropriation because they aspire to be like and resemble the original look and feel of the neighborhood that has a significant cultural background (Out, 2018, p. 2).

Gentrification not only effects a community through the displacement of occupants from the housing, but it also affects a community's businesses. In the original neighborhood, before gentrification, the neighborhood’s businesses thrive because they only have to cater to one crowd which is the people who live there. When the neighborhood is gentrified, it becomes much harder for the businesses because they now have to cater two crowds and two different tastes, the gentrified taste (middle class) and the original neighborhood tasted (often lower class). Leslie Kern explains that small business owners struggle to “manage the tensions and contradictions of struggling for economic survival while attempting to support community-building efforts and social reproduction needs' (Kern, 2013, p. 1). The new businesses in the gentrified area only have to cater to the new crowd in the area because traditionally, the new crowd is the only people who can afford the prices of the items that the businesses sell. As this happens, the old businesses often shut down because the new businesses take over.

According to experts, gentrification can also affect health. According to Marie-Elizabeth Ramas “Unintended consequences from gentrification affect the condition of a community and can thus serve as indicators of social determinants of health. For instance, the sparsity of affordable resources will affect one's access to healthy food and education” (Ramas, 2018, p. 3). Dr. Ramas goes on to explain that an increase in stress from displacement can lead to metabolic disorders. Other health issues are likely to arise from being displaced through gentrification. Mental health can also affect those that have been displaced. According to Marcia Robiou, schizophrenia and mood disorders are likely to arise among those that have been affected by gentrification. Displaced individuals are also more likely to make emergency room visits for drug and alcohol use (Lim et al., 2017, 1).

Where is Gentrification Happening?Gentrification happens in neighborhoods and cities all over America. Most commonly, gentrification is happening in cities and neighborhoods in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. Gentrification is also happening in Tacoma, Washington. Hilltop, a neighborhood in Tacoma, is one of the most rapidly gentrifying areas in the United States (Lloyd, 2018, p. 1). Hilltop is a historically black neighborhood in Tacoma, Washington. 41-percent of residents now are white, and 30 percent of residents now are black. Between 2000 and 2016 home prices rose 103-percent (Lloyd, 2018, p. 1). The zip code that occupies Hilltop is 98402. According to Kate Martin, plans in the 98402-zip code include a $60 million development into Tacoma's brewery district that will include a 14-story high rise and an $85 million Marriott hotel next to the convention center (Martin, 2018, p. 2). “The 98402 is neighbors with the Stadium District and the Theater District, which are sprinkled with grocery stores and specialty shops and eclectic restaurants dotting the landscape, making this a happening place. Soon, gentrification will be ubiquitous throughout downtown,” (Martin, 2018, p. 2).

Gentrification is used to change districts and neighborhoods. Undeniably, gentrification does bring some positive changes to neighborhoods. Increasing property values are important not only for businesses but for residents as well. When property values increase, it attracts new people and gives new clients to businesses. But when people start getting displaced, that is when gentrification goes wrong. The positive changes that gentrification brings are only for the gentrifiers who move into the neighborhood. People should not be displaced from their homes because people want to make more money. Gentrification overall is a capitalistic idea outlined by the desire of profit.

Gentrification is the change of a neighborhood by property taxes, median household income, and the overall façade of the neighborhood. Gentrification is used to raise property values to attract a new crowd to the neighborhood. The new people that move into these neighborhoods are often more affluent to those who originally inhabited the neighborhood. Through changes and increases in costs of properties and the cost of items in stores, the original people who lived there are displaced. Gentrification should not be used to raise property values because it displaces those who have previously lived there, criminalizes minorities who still live in the neighborhood, and can cause health problems with the people who were displaced. Gentrification is a capitalistic idea that profits from people’s displacement. Although gentrification does bring some positive changes like lower crime rates, it should not be used due to what it does to its former inhabitants and minorities.

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