Gentrification. It’s a loaded term with bad connotations. It is the process when middle and upper class citizens, mostly white, move into a poor neighborhood and displace the poor working class citizens, mostly made up of minorities. It is feared and hated by many minorities in cities. One says, “When uppity white people move into a ghetto and take over the real estate, which [expletive] over the current residents. Usually followed by the opening of a [expletive] ton of Starbucks, Nordstroms, and Whole Foods.”
Gentrification occurs not as a systemic attempt to displace minorities. It happens unintentionally. Land values and costs in poor areas are cheap and this drives investment. It is only natural for those in city government and planners to economically develop these depraved areas. It is after the capital and money that comes into the area does the middle class white people. Gentrification has many good qualities. Areas are safer. The economic development creates more tax revenue for the city or neighborhood. There are more and higher quality jobs. However this results in more expensive housing. Rent is now higher too, and the original and mostly minorities cannot afford this and are forced to leave.
So then the problem is not the act it self. The problem is the rising costs of housing and rents. If minorities manage to stay in the city than they can enjoy the higher quality jobs and lower crime rates that come with gentrification. Therefore it is important for planners and municipal government to manage gentrification and economic development with housing planning and regulations to maintain the population of the mostly minorities that lived in the area before gentrification occurred.
Since the problem is rising housing and rent, the solution should be aimed at fixing housing rather than depriving areas of economic development. One way to do this is by making sure there is enough affordable housing in the area so all the people that lived there aren’t displaced. This is apparent to the Mayor of New York who said, ” “If we fail to be a city for everyone, we risk losing what makes New York, New York. We risk losing the very soul of this place.” If those who lived there before are gone then the character of the city changes. The program in NYC to curb the effects of gentrification is to “increasing the allowable density of select neighborhoods to stimulate market rate projects that include an acceptable percentage of affordable units.” By requiring there to be a certain amount of affordable housing units cities can negate the displacement that occurs due to gentrification and allow original minority populations to enjoy the qualities that come with gentrification and will allow the city and neighborhoods to maintain the original character of the city.