By Raven Tyler
For many people, gentrification or the process of renovating and improving a district so that it conforms to a middle-class taste, is regarded as a good thing because the area that they gentrify is said to be a “cleaner” and “safer” place.
However, for many individuals who have made a home in these districts, gentrification can place burdens on their lives that make it extremely difficult for them to live their ordinary lives. While there are said to be more commercial and retail opportunities, people will also have to pay more money to enjoy these better neighborhoods leaving many inhabitants forced to make tough monetary decisions.
Many of these inhabitants impacted are minorities, African American and Latino neighborhoods are increasingly being gentrified in cities such as, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. And Sadly, New York City’s gentrification rate is growing slightly faster in the areas of East Harlem, Astoria, Crown Heights, Bushwick, and Bedford and Stuyvesant, also known as, “Bed-Stuy.”
The increasing gentrification of these minority neighborhoods, makes the racial undertone of gentrification practically impossible to ignore. Many have issue with the process because they believe it refers to predominantly white tastes, some even say it is the new colonialism.
The issue with gentrification is obvious; as wealthier people move into poor neighborhoods, such as Bed-Stuy, landlords raise the rent for everyone to cash in from the wealth of the new arrival of residents. According to the New York Times, the rent prices in New York City as a whole have increased 75% since 2001. Landlords are known to encourage low-income residents to move out by not renewing leases or not maintaining apartments, forcing them to leave.
Native businesses such as, “bodegas” or small convenience stores, primarily in neighborhoods with a high volume of Spanish-speakers, might be in jeopardy of losing clientele and money due to low-income residents possibly moving out.
Some wealthier residents rather spend their money in stores like “Whole Foods” rather than a small, local convenience store.
Furthermore, developments become more influenced by profit rather than the community or the people. Local stores normally allow EBT (electronic benefit transfer), credit or any other public assistance to shop. When these businesses are shut down or moved, it becomes harder for low-income residents to receive their necessities.
Gentrification also impacts the cultures that have been established in neighborhoods. From annual block parties being shut down, to street vendors not being able to sell their products and goods in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, are examples of what has destroyed the developed culture.
The stigma that African Americans and Latinos are disorderly by wealthier, white residents can also be enhanced by gentrification. Loud music or talking may become an issue for anyone who may not be a native to their area.
People are unrighteously forced from the only home they have ever known because of affluent, middle-class people moving into their neighborhoods. They are forced to move to far suburban areas which causes them to commute longer distances or move into cheaper neighborhoods which causes overcrowding.
Normally white wealthy newcomers are applauded for “improving” these neighborhoods but minority residents are being displaced due to economic changes, lost of culture, and increasing rent prices. To them, the land has more value when it is owned by them.
The only way to help prevent gentrification is to support local businesses within the communities and fight back against the oppressors, because what may seem like a good thing could also be an extremely huge problem.
“Then comes the Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are too loud.” – Spike Lee