Friday, November 6, 2015

How Do I Explain "Gentrification?"

Imagine you and your family have been living in a neighborhood for decades. It's not perfect but its home. You have neighbors who are also friends. Stores that you feel comfortable in; Inexpensive restaurants that serve your favorite ethnic foods There is crime, but not as much as 20 years ago when you and your neighbors push the drug gangs out , get more police patroling during daylight hours and get the abandoned buildings knocked down and replaced with affordable housing.

Now after all that work you put into make the neighborhood safer and more livable, everything starts to change before your eyes. New people start moving in who never look at you when they pass you or when they do, look at you with pity and contempt, New buildings start going up, on the few remaining vacant lots, that none of your longtime neighbors can afford. Rents start creeping up, and then skyrocketing not only in apartments but in the commercial districts. Soon, the stores you have shopped in for years start closing, replaced by establishments which sell products you don't want at prices you can't afford.

And then the exodus begins. Friends and neighbors moving, not only out of the neighborhood, but out of the city, because it has become impossible for them to afford. After five years, you look around and you are a stranger where you once felt at home. None of the people who worked to bring back the neighborhood from crime and violence and disinvestment are still there

And the new people on your block look at you as if YOU represent crime and violence and danger, and the local police follow suit.

This is what has happened in city after city, neighborhood after neighborhood, from Fillmore in San Francisco to Harlem in NYC

It is the price of uncontrolled development in a nation where working class incomes are stagnant, the middle class is shrinking, and trickle down economics rules.

It has led to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people displaced from neighborhoods they have thought of as home, with more refugees being created every year