Michael Martinez
May 22, 2017

When Gentrification becomes an Issue.

3 comments

Edited: May 22, 2017

I'm all for Boston becoming a 21st-Century city. I'm all for the beautification of Boston. I'm all for building sky scrapers. I'm all for attracting new residents to Boston. Long story short, I love my city.

 

Under Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston has become increasingly gentrified. Which to a certain extent is great. Boston is making more money. We're making more money for the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Public Works, the Public Safety department and for many youth programs. However, all of this economic development comes at a cost. Low-income families (mostly Black and Latino families) have been displaced from their homes. These are families who have spent generations in their neighborhoods. Now they are forced to leave as a result of the rise in the cost of living. Usually, affluent white families are replacing these low-income families. This makes gentrification more than a practice to augment a city's wealth. It makes it a race issue.

 

Another conflict with gentrification that many residents are concerned about is the loss of urban culture.

 

How has gentrification affected your community? How do we economically develop a city while respecting long time residents and maintaining urban culture?

Rachna Shah
May 22, 2017

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, Michael! Gentrification is definitely an issue here in Chicago, as well. Local minorities (but studies have shown that African-Americans are proportionately more affected than Latino families) are being relocated to the suburbs in favor of, for the most part, affluent white millennials and their families. An argument that I often hear being made is that diversity is being smoothed over in favor of uniformity. There is a history of race-based injustice in the Chicago housing market, and in moving forward to economically develop the city - because of higher tax revenues - this should not be forgotten. I would also like to know how this situation could be improved, to ensure housing diversity. Perhaps making sure that each resident is involved in the planning and development process could prevent such a loss from continuing, though this is definitely easier said than done.

Michael Martinez
May 23, 2017

Thank you! And agreed! I think that involving residents and allowing them to have some power would really make a difference. I also know that in Boston, developers are required by law to reserve apartments and put them on the market at "affordable rates"... Although, everyone's definition of Affordable is different. So, what is deemed affordable for one family might be rather expensive for another. A next step to solve this issue would be to redefine "affordable."

 

We should be living in a time where ALL neighborhoods are economically diverse. No young person should ever be denied a great education simply because they were born into difficult circumstances... I digress, though. I rather not go on a rant about the cycles and systems of poverty.

Rachna Shah
May 23, 2017

I'd rather not too, but gentrification really does get back to the issue of the vicious cycle that is poverty (and the lack of many people understanding this). Affordable housing is definitely important!

 

While there isn't a guarantee that neighborhood diversity will result in collective prosperity, diverse neighborhoods are more likely to be stable for poorer families. Isolation or exclusion is not the answer. In terms of policy solutions, there are a lot that have been promoted - from investing in diverse neighborhoods to enforcing fair housing laws. I believe that allocating Low Income Housing Tax Credits in regions with non-diverse communities could be a possible option. What are your thoughts on the most effective policy?

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