By Jueseppi B.
Throughout the month Of February, TheObamaCrat™ will post a daily series called The Black History Moment Series. Each day for 28 days of this historic month you will be given the food of Black History to satisfy your hunger for knowledge.
Gentrification is a shift in an urban community toward wealthier residents and/or businesses and increasing property values, sometimes to the detriment of the poorer residents of the community. Gentrification is typically the result of investment in a community by local government, community activists, or business groups, and can often spur economic development, attract business, lower crime rates, and have other benefits to a community. Despite these potential benefits, urban gentrification is perceived to result in population migration, with poorer residents displaced by wealthier newcomers, but separate studies by Lance Freeman (Columbia University) and Jacob Vigdor (Duke University) indicate that there is no more displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods compared to non-gentrifying neighborhoods.
In a community undergoing gentrification, the average income increases and average family size decreases. Poorer pre-gentrification residents who are unable to pay increased rents or property taxes may be driven out. Often old industrial buildings are converted to residences and shops. New businesses, which can afford increased commercial rent, cater to a more affluent base of consumers—further increasing the appeal to higher income migrants and decreasing the accessibility to the poor.
Political action is often the community’s response, either to promote the gentrification or oppose economic eviction. Local governments may favor gentrification because of the increased tax base associated with the new high-income residents, as well as other perceived benefits of moving poor people and rehabilitating deteriorated areas.
Do the Right Thing (4/10) Movie CLIP – Your Jordan’s Are F***ed Up! (1989) HD
A fight nearly breaks out when a white neighbor, Clifton (John Savage), accidentally scuffs Buggin Out’s (Giancarlo Esposito) new sneakers, Gentrification at work in 1988.
Origin and etymology
Historians say that gentrification took place in ancient Rome and in Roman Britain, where large villas were replacing small shops by the 3rd century, AD. The word gentrification derives from gentry—which comes from the Old French word genterise, “of gentle birth” (14th century) and “people of gentle birth” (16th century). In England, Landed gentry denoted the social class, consisting of gentlemen. An early reference to the word “gentrification” can be found in “Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary & Philosophical Society”, written in 1888. British sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term “gentrification” in 1964 to describe the influx of middle-class people displacing lower-class worker residents in urban neighborhoods; her example was London, and its working-class districts such as Islington:
One by one, many of the working class neighbourhoods of London have been invaded by the middle-classes—upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages—two rooms up and two down—have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences … Once this process of ‘gentrification’ starts in a district it goes on rapidly, until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Health Effects of Gentrification defines the real estate concept ofgentrification as “the transformation of neighborhoods from low value to high value. This change has the potential to cause displacement of long-time residents and businesses … when long-time or original neighborhood residents move from a gentrified area because of higher rents, mortgages, and property taxes. Gentrification is a housing, economic, and health issue that affects a community’s history and culture and reduces social capital. It often shifts a neighbourhood’s characteristics, e.g., racial-ethnic composition and household income, by adding new stores and resources in previously run-down neighbourhoods.”
In the Brookings Institution report Dealing with Neighbourhood Change: A Primer on Gentrification and Policy Choices (2001), Maureen Kennedy and Paul Leonard say that “the term ‘gentrification’ is both imprecise and quite politically charged”, suggesting its redefinition as “the process by which higher income households displace lower income residents of a neighbourhood, changing the essential character and flavour of that neighbourhood”, so distinguishing it from the different socio-economic process of “neighbourhood (or urban) revitalization”, although the terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
There are several approaches that attempt to explain the roots and the reasons behind the spread of gentrification. Bruce London and J. John (1984) compiled a list of five explanations: (1) demographic-ecological, (2) sociocultural, (3) political-economical, (4) community networks, and (5) social movements.
The first theory, demographic-ecological, attempts to explain gentrification through the analysis of demographics: population, social organization, environment, and technology. This theory frequently refers to the growing number of people between the ages of 25 and 35 in the 1970s, or the baby boom generation. Because the number of people that sought housing increased, the demand for housing increased also. The supply could not keep up with the demand; therefore cities were “recycled” to meet such demands (London and Palen, 1984). The baby boomers in pursuit of housing were very different, demographically, from their house-hunting predecessors. They got married older, had fewer children, and the children they did have were born later. Women, both single and married, were entering the labour force at higher rates which led to an increase of dual wage-earner households. These households were typically composed of young, more affluent couples without children. Because these couples were child-free and were not concerned with the conditions of schools and playgrounds, they elected to live in the inner-city in close proximity to their jobs. These more affluent people usually had white-collar, not blue-collar jobs. Since these white-collar workers wanted to live closer to work, a neighbourhood with more white-collar jobs was more likely to be invaded; the relationship between administrative activity and invasion was positively correlated (London and Palen, 1984).
The second theory proposed by London and Palen is based on a sociocultural explanation of gentrification. This theory argues that values, sentiments, attitudes, ideas, beliefs, and choices should be used to explain and predict human behavior, not demographics, or “structural units of analysis” (i.e., characteristics of populations) (London and Palen, 1984). This analysis focuses on the changing attitudes, lifestyles, and values of the middle- and upper-middle-class of the 1970s. They were becoming more pro-urban than before, opting not to live in rural or even suburban areas anymore. These new pro-urban values were becoming more salient, and more and more people began moving into the cities. London and Palen refer to the first people to invade the cities as “urban pioneers.” These urban pioneers demonstrated that the inner-city was an “appropriate” and “viable” place to live, resulting in what is called “inner city chic” (London and Palen, 1984). The opposing side of this argument is that dominant, or recurring, American values determine where people decide to live, not the changing values previously cited. This means that people choose to live in a gentrified area to restore it, not to alter it, because restoration is a “new way to realize old values” (London and Palen, 1984).
The third theoretical explanation of gentrification is political-economic and is divided into two approaches: traditional and Marxist. The traditional approach argues that economic and political factors have led to the invasion of the inner-city, hence the name political-economic. The changing political and legal climate of the 1950s and 60s (new civil rights legislation, antidiscrimination laws in housing and employment, and desegregation) had an “unanticipated” role in the gentrification of neighborhoods. A decrease in prejudice led to more blacks moving to the suburbs and whites no longer rejected the idea of moving to the city. The decreasing availability of suburban land and inflation in suburban housing costs also inspired the invasion of the cities. The Marxist approach denies the notion that the political and economic influences on gentrification are invisible, but are intentional. This theory claims that “powerful interest groups follow a policy of neglect of the inner city until such time as they become aware that policy changes could yield tremendous profits” (London and Palen, 1984). Once the inner city becomes a source of revenue, the powerless residents are displaced with little or no regard from the powerful.
The community-network approach is the fourth proposed by London and Palen. This views the community as an “interactive social group.” Two perspectives are noted: community lost and community saved. The community lost perspective argues that the role of the neighborhood is becoming more limited due to technological advances in transportation and communication. This means that the small-scale, local community is being replaced with more large-scale, political and social organizations (Greer, 1962). The opposing side, the community saved side, argues that community activity increases when neighborhoods are gentrified because these neighborhoods are being revitalized.
The fifth and final approach is social movements. This theoretical approach is focused on the analysis of ideologically based movements, usually in terms of leader-follower relationships. Those who support gentrification are encouraged by leaders (successful urban pioneers, political-economic elites, land developers, lending institutions, and even the Federal government in some instances) to revive the inner-city. Those who are in opposition are the people who currently reside in the deteriorated areas. They develop countermovements in order to gain the power necessary to defend themselves against the movements of the elite. These countermovements can be unsuccessful, though. The people who support reviving neighborhoods are also members, and their voices are the ones that the gentrifiers tend to hear (London and Palen, 1984).
Two discrete, sociological theories explain and justify gentrification as an economic process (production-side theory) and as a social process (consumption-side theory) that occurs when the suburban gentry tire of the automobile-dependent urban sprawl style of life; thus, professionals,empty nest aged parents, and recent university graduates perceive the attractiveness of the city center—earlier abandoned during white flight—especially if the poor community possesses a transport hub and its architecture sustains the pedestrian traffic that allows the proper human relations impeded by (sub)urban sprawl.
Professor Smith and Marxist sociologists explain gentrification as a structural economic process; Ley explains gentrification as a natural outgrowth of increased professional employment in the central business district (CBD), and the creative sub-class’s predilection for city living. “Liberal Ideology and the Post-Industrial City” (1980) describes and deconstructs the TEAM committee’s effort to rendering Vancouver, BC, Canada, a “livable city”. The investigators Rose, Beauregard, Mullins, Moore et al., who base themselves upon Ley’s ideas, posit that “gentrifiers and their social and cultural characteristics [are] of crucial importance for an understanding of gentrification”—theoretical work Chris Hamnett criticized as insufficiently comprehensive, for not incorporating the “supply of dwellings and the role of developers [and] speculators in the process”.
The production-side theory of urban gentrification derives from the work of human geographer Neil Smith, explaining gentrification as an economic process consequent to the fluctuating relationships among capital investments and the production of urban space. He asserts that restructuring of urban space is the visual component of a larger social, economic, and spacial restructuring of the contemporary capitalist economy. Smith summarizes the causes of gentrification into five main processes: suburbanization and the emergence of rent gap, deindustrialization, spatial centralization and decentralization of capital, falling profit and cyclical movement of capital, and changes in demographics and consumption patterns.
- Suburbanization and Rent Gap
Suburban development derives from outward expansion of cities, often driven by sought profit and the availability of cheap land. This change in consumption causes a fall in inner city land prices, often resulting in poor upkeep and a neglect of repair for these properties by owners and landlords. The depressed land is then devalued, causing rent to be significantly cheaper than the potential rent that could be derived from the “best use” of the land while taking advantage of its central location. From this derives the Rent-gap Theory describing the disparity between “the actual capitalized ground rent (land price) of a plot of land given its present use, and the potential ground rent that might be gleaned under a ‘higher and better’ use.”
The rent gap is fundamental to explaining gentrification as an economic process. When the gap is sufficiently wide, real estate developers,landlords, and other people with vested interests in the development of land perceive the potential profit to be derived from re-investing in inner-city properties and redeveloping them for new tenants. Thus, the development of a rent gap creates the opportunity for urban restructuring and gentrification.
The de-industrialization of cities in developed nations reduces the number of blue-collar jobs available to the urban working class as well as middle-wage jobs with the opportunity for advancement, creating lost investment capital needed to physically maintain the houses and buildings of the city. Abandoned industrial areas create availability for land for the rent gap process.
- Spatial centralization and decentralization of capital
De-industrialization is often integral to the growth of a divided white collar employment, providing professional and management jobs that follow the spatial decentralization of the expanding world economy. However, somewhat counter-intuitively, globalization also is accompanied by spatial centralization of urban centers, mainly from the growth of the inner city as a base for headquarter and executive decision-making centers. This concentration can be attributed to the need for rapid decisions and information flow, which makes it favorable to have executive centers in close proximity to each other. Thus, the expanding effect of suburbanization as well as agglomeration to city centers can coexist. These simultaneous processes can translate to gentrification activities when professionals have a high demand to live near their executive workplaces in order to reduce decision-making time.
- Falling profit and the cyclical movement of capital
This section of Smith’s theory attempts to describe the timing of the process of gentrification. At the end of a period of expansion for the economy, such as a boom in postwar suburbs, accumulation of capital leads to a falling rate of profit. It is then favorable to seek investment outside the industrial sphere to hold off onset of an economic crisis. By this time, the period of expansion has inevitably led to the creation of rent gap, providing opportunity for capital reinvestment in this surrounding environment.
- Changes in demographic and consumption patterns
Smith emphasizes that demographic and life-style changes are more of an exhibition of the form of gentrification, rather than real factors behind gentrification. The aging baby-boomer population, greater participation of women in the workforce, and the changes in marriage and childrearing norms explain the appearance that gentrification takes, or as Smith says, “why we have proliferating quiche bars rather than Howard Johnson’s”.
At an event at Pratt last night, Spike Lee was asked about something he’s been consistently passionate about: Gentrification. Specifically the gentrification of Brooklyn, where he was raised. In 2010 we asked him about this, and here’s howthat went:
Were you still living there when the neighborhood began transitioning into what it is now?When did you start noticing it changing? You know, you have to do your homework. You do your homework and you find out the specific year when gentrification took place.
I’m asking if you witnessed that gentrification. I can’t give you an exact date.
Okay, but what was your own experience of it? [No response.]
This time around he had more to say, about seven minutes worth according to NY Mag—they transcribed the entire thing. They report back that he railed against the hipsters taking over Brooklyn—sorry, that’s “motherfucking hipsters”—when asked about the “other side” of the gentrification debate (“there was some bullshit article in the New York Times saying ‘the good of gentrification’”). Here are some bullet points from his talk, as well as the audio, captured by NY Mag:
- “Why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the South Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? Why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherfuckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park… The police weren’t around… When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.”
- “Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here?”
- “When Michael Jackson died they wanted to have a party for him in motherfuckin’ Fort Greene Park and all of a sudden the white people in Fort Greene said, ‘Wait a minute! We can’t have black people having a party for Michael Jackson to celebrate his life. Who’s coming to the neighborhood? They’re gonna leave lots of garbage.’ Garbage? Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning? It’s like the motherfuckin’ Westminster Dog Show. There’s 20,000 dogs running around.”
- [After discussing people not being able to afford Williamsburg anymore...] “These real estate motherfuckers are changing names! Stuyvestant Heights? [SpaHa] What the fuck is that? What do they call Bushwick now? How you changin’ names?”
Well, as Native New Yorker Jake Dobkin once penned, “If it’s any consolation, like Autumn following Summer, degentrification (‘urban decay’) is the inevitable second stroke of the urban cycle. Some neighborhoods, like Fort Greene, have been gentrified, degentrified, and regentrified, and will be again at some point in the future. It may take 25 or 50 years, but wait long enough and you too may get to experience falling rents and street crime!”
Thank you gothemist.com
In contrast to the production-side argument, the consumption-side theory of urban gentrification posits that the “socio-cultural characteristics and motives” of the gentrifiers are most important to understanding the gentrification of the post-industrial city. The changes in the structure of advanced capitalist cities with the shift from industrial to service-based economy were coupled with the expanding of a new middle class—one with a larger purchasing power than ever before. As such, human geographer David Ley posits a rehabilitated post-industrial city influenced by a this “new middle class.” The consumption theory contends that it is the demographics and consumption patterns of this “new middle class” that is responsible for gentrification.
The economic and cultural changes of the world in the 1960s have been attributed to these consumption changes. The anti-authoritarian protest movements of the young in the U.S., especially on college campuses, brought a new disdain for the “standardization of look-alike suburbs,” as well as fueled a movement toward empowering freedom and establishing authenticity. In the postindustrial economy, the expansion of middle class jobs in inner cities came at the same time as many of the ideals of this movement. The process of gentrification stemmed as the new middle class, often with politically progressive ideals, was employed in the city and recognized not only the convenient commute of a city residence, but also the appeal towards the urban lifestyle as a means of opposing the “deception of the suburbanite.”
This new middle class was characterized by professionals with life pursuits expanded from traditional economist focus. Gentrification provided a means for the ‘stylization of life’ and an expression of realized profit and social rank. Similarly, Michael Jager contended that the consumption pattern of the new middle class explains gentrification because of the new appeal of embracing the historical past as well as urban lifestyle and culture. The need of the middle class to express individualism from both the upper and lower classes was expressed through consumption, and specifically through the consumption of a house as an aesthetic object.
“This permanent tension on two fronts is evident in the architecture of gentrification: in the external restorations of the Victoriana, the middle classes express their candidature for the dominant classes; in its internal renovation work this class signifies its distance from the lower orders.” p. 154
Gentrification, according to consumption theory, fulfills the desire for a space with social meaning for the middle class as well as the belief that it can only be found in older places because of a dissatisfaction with contemporary urban-ism.
Gentrification is integral to the new economy of centralized, high-level services work—the “new urban economic core of banking and service activities that come to replace the older, typically manufacturing-oriented, core” that displaces middle-class retail businesses so they might be “replaced by upmarket boutiques and restaurants catering to new high-income urban élites”. In the context of globalization, the city’s importance is determined by its ability to function as a discrete socio-economic entity, given the lesser import of national borders, resulting in de-industrialized global cities and economic restructuring.
To wit, the American urban theorist John Friedman‘s seven-part theory posits a bifurcated service industry in world cities, composed of “a high percentage of professionals specialized in control functions and … a vast army of low-skilled workers engaged in … personal services … [that] cater to the privileged classes, for those whose sake the world city primarily exists”. The final three hypotheses detail (i) the increased immigration of low-skill laborers needed to support the privileged classes, (ii) the class and caste conflict consequent to the city’s inability to support the poor people who are the service class, and (iii) the world city as a function of social class struggle—matters expanded by Saskia Sassen et al. The world city’s inherent socio-economic inequality illustrates the causes of gentrification, reported in “Where Did They Go? The Decline of Middle-Income Neighborhoods in Metropolitan America” (2006) demonstrating geographical segregation by income in US cities, wherein middle-income (middle class) neighborhoods decline, while poor neighborhoods and rich neighborhoods remain stable.
As rent-gap theory would predict, one of the most visible changes the gentrification process brings is to the infrastructure of a neighborhood. Typically, areas to be gentrified are deteriorated and old, though structurally sound, and often have some obscure amenity such as a historical significance that attracts the potential gentrifiers. Gentry purchase and restore these houses, mostly for single-family homes. Another phenomenon is “loft conversion,” which rehabilitates mixed-use areas, often abandoned industrial buildings or run-down apartment buildings to housing for the incoming gentrifiers. While this upgrade of housing value is the superficial keynote to the gentrification process, there is a greater number of less-visible shifts the gentry bring with them into their new neighborhoods.
|Higher incentive for property owners to increase/improve housing||Displacement through rent/price increases|
|Reduction in crime||Secondary psychological costs of displacement|
|Stabilization of declining areas||Community resentment and conflict|
|Increased property values||Loss of affordable housing|
|Increased consumer purchasing power at local businesses||Unsustainable speculative property price increases|
|Reduced vacancy rates||Homelessness|
|Increased local fiscal revenues||Greater take of local spending through lobbying/articulacy|
|Encouragement and increased viability of further development||Commercial/industrial displacement|
|Reduced strain on local infrastructure and services||Increased cost and changes to local services|
|Reduction of suburban sprawl||Displacement and housing demand pressures on surrounding poor areas|
|Increased social mix||Loss of social diversity (from socially disparate to rich ghettos)|
|Rehabilitation of property both with and without state sponsorship||Under occupancy and population loss of gentrified areas|
Source: Loretta Lees, Tom Slater, and Elvin Wyly, Genrification Reader, p. 196. © 2008 Routledge.; Rowland Atkinson and Gary Bridge, eds.,Gentrification in a Global Context: the New Urban Colonialism, p. 5. © 2005 Routledge.
Displacement in the context of gentrification is defined in The Gentrification Reader as “forced disenfranchisement of poor and working class people from the spaces and places in which they have legitimate social and historical claims.” It is one of the most studied negative aspects of gentrification, yet its nature has provided researchers with many prohibitive barriers to obtaining accurate and reliable data, much of which is more focused on the gentrifiers than those who are displaced by the process.
What is generally agreed upon, however, is that those displaced are primarily minority, elderly, and transient groups, and they are nearly always driven out in areas where gentrification occurs. Studies have also shown that there seem to be two waves of displacement of these original residents. In the early stages, renters are largely driven out because of the changing incentives of landlords. With the rising interest in a particular neighborhood, they have no motive to retain their current tenants over the new, more affluent rent seekers. As the process continues, owners of single residential units are strained with the surge in property values that translates to increased tax assessments. Often their incomes cannot continue to cover these increased living costs. Those who are ‘gentrified’ not only lack the economic resources to compete with these changes, but stereotypically lack political power, are easily exploited by landlords and developers, and eventually are simply forced to leave due to these inabilities to resist the gentrification process.
Many of the social effects of gentrification have been based on extensive theories about how socioeconomic status of an individual’s neighborhood will shape one’s behavior and future. These studies have prompted “social mix policies” to be widely adopted by governments to promote the process and its positive effects, such as lessening the strain on public resources, that are associated with de-concentrating poverty. However, more specific research has shown that gentrification does not necessarily correlate with “social mixing,” and that the effects of the new composition of a gentrified neighborhood can both weaken as well as strengthen community cohesion
Housing confers social status, and the changing norms that accompany gentrification translate to a changing social hierarchy. The process of gentrification mixes people of different socioeconomic strata, thereby congregating a variety of expectations and social norms. The change gentrification brings in class distinction also has been shown to contribute to residential polarization by income, education, household composition, and race. It conveys a social rise that brings new standards in consumption, particularly in the form of excess and superfluity, to the area that were not held by the pre-existing residents. These differing norms can lead to conflict, which potentially serves to divide changing communities. Often this comes at a larger social cost to the original residents of the gentrified area whose displacement is met with little concern from the gentry or the government. Clashes that result in increased police surveillance, for example, would more adversely affect young minorities who are also more likely to be the original residents of the area.
There is also evidence to support that gentrification can strengthen and stabilize when there is a consensus about a community’s objectives. Gentrifiers with an organized presence in deteriorated neighborhoods can demand and receive better resources. A characteristic example is a combined community effort to win historic district designation for the neighborhood, a phenomenon that is often linked to gentrification activity. Gentry can exert a peer influence on neighbors to take action against crime, which can lead to even more price increases in changing neighborhoods when crime rates drop and optimism for the area’s future climbs.
The economic changes that occur as a community goes through gentrification are often favorable for local governments. Affluent gentrifiers expand the local tax base as well as support local shops and businesses, a large part of why the process is frequently alluded to in urban policies. The decrease in vacancy rates and increase in property value that accompany the process can work to stabilize a previously struggling community, restoring interest in inner-city life as a residential option alongside the suburbs. These changes can create positive feedback as well, encouraging other forms of development of the area that promote general economic growth.
Home ownership is a significant variable when it comes to economic impacts of gentrification. People who own their homes are much more able to gain financial benefits of gentrification than those who rent their houses and can be displaced without much compensation.
Just as critical to the gentrification process as creating a favorable environment is the availability of the ‘gentry,’ or those who will be first-stage gentrifiers. The typical gentrifiers are affluent and have a professional-level, service industry jobs, many of which involve self-employment Therefore, they are willing and able to take the investment risk in the housing market. Often they are single people or young couples without children who lack demand for good schools. Gentrifiers are likely searching for inexpensive housing close to the workplace and often already reside in the inner city, sometimes for educational reasons, and do not want to make the move to suburbia. Thus, gentrification is not so much the result of a return to the inner city but is more of a positive action to remain there.
The stereotypical gentrifiers also have shared consumer preferences and favor a largely consumerist culture. This fuels the rapid expansion of trendy restaurant, shopping, and entertainment spheres that often accompany the gentrification process. Holcomb and Beauregard described these groups as those who are “attracted by low prices and toleration of an unconventional lifestyle.”
An interesting find from research on those who participate and initiate the gentrification process, the “marginal gentrifiers” as referred to by Tim Butler, is that they become marginalized by the expansion of the process. Research has also shown subgroups of gentrifiers that fall outside of these stereotypes. Two important ones are women, typically single mothers, as well as gay people who are typically men.
Women’s participation in the labor force has risen dramatically in the past 50 years, translating to an expansion of women with higher incomes and opportunities to invest. Smith suggests this group “represents a reservoir of potential gentrifiers.”  The larger percentages of highly educated women who postpone marriage and childrearing also play into this theory, as well as the fact that residence in the inner city can give women access to the well-paid jobs and networking, something that is becoming increasingly common.
There are also theories that suggest the inner-city lifestyle is important for women with children because of the network of support it provides for childcare. This attracts specifically single women with children to the inner-city over suburban areas, often as “marginal gentrifiers,” for the city can offer an easier solution to combining paid and unpaid labor. Inner city concentration increases the efficiency of commodities working mothers need by minimizing time constraints between multiple jobs, childcare, and markets, for example.
Gay and lesbian people
Manuel Castells‘s seminal work about gay men as “gentrifiers” in San Francisco, California, is the most famous case study of sexuality and gentrification. His work shows that “many gays were single men, did not have to raise a family, were young, and connected to a relatively prosperous service economy” is a pattern replicated in other North American cities.
Castells’ study reflected three specific trends of the gay gentrifiers of San Francisco. The primary means of gentrification by gays of the city happened when less affluent gay men bought housing as a collective, then renovated the residence themselves. Less common but also observed was the influence of affluent gay professional men, as well as gay realtors and interior decorators who made a career out of renovating deteriorated housing and selling for profit.
Gentrification is not solely dominated by gay men, for gentrification movements in neighborhoods have been led by lesbians as well. Park Slope in New York City is one of the most famous examples. Lesbian communities correlated with the expansion of the women’s movement and the attraction of gentrification as ‘sweat equity,’ as well as the strong influence of lesbian social networking power.
Phillip Clay’s two-stage model of gentrification places artists as prototypical stage one or “marginal” gentrifiers.The National Endowment for the Arts did a study that linked the proportion of employed artists to the rate of inner city gentrification across a number of U.S. cities. Artists will typically accept the risks of rehabilitating deteriorated property, as well as have the time, skill, and ability to carry out these extensive renovations. Ley states that the artist’s critique of everyday life and search for meaning and renewal are what make them early recruits for gentrification.
The identity residence in the inner city provides is important for the gentrifier, and this is particularly so in the artists’ case. Their cultural emancipation from the bourgeois makes the central city an appealing alternative to distance themselves from the conformity and mundaneness attributed to suburban life. They are quintessential city people, and the city is often a functional choice as well, for city life has advantages that include cheap space, connections to customers, and a closer proximity to a downtown art scene, all of which are more likely to be limited in a suburban setting. Ley’s research cites a quote from a Vancouver print maker talking about the importance of inner city life to an artist, that it has, “energy, intensity, hard to specify but hard to do without” (1996).
Ironically, these attributes that make artists characteristic marginal gentrifiers form the same foundations for their isolation as the gentrification process matures. The later stages of the process generate an influx of more affluent, “yuppie” residents. As the bohemian character of the community grows, it appeals “not only to committed participants, but also to sporadic consumers,” and the rising property values that accompany this migration often lead to the eventual pushing out of the artists that began the movement in the first place. Sharon Zukin’s study of SoHo in Manhattan, NYC was one of the most famous cases of this phenomenon. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Manhattan lofts in SoHo were converted en masse into housing for artists and hippies, and then their sub-culture followers.
To counter the gentrification of their mixed-populace communities, residents formally organized themselves to develop the necessary socio-political strategies required to retain local affordable housing; many such organizations arose in the 1960s, and used the pragmatic tactics advocated by Saul Alinsky (1909–1972). In the late 1960s, the Young LordsChicago street gang—who were politically active in the then-Puerto Rican neighborhood of Lincoln Park—practiced the direct-action techniques of sit-in protests and occupying vacant community lands. In Miami, Florida, USA, the Liberty City community organization “Take Back the Land” seized empty lands and built the Umoja Village shantytown for the community’s homeless people in October 2006. Like-wise, other communities established community development corporations that include the residents in actively developing their neighborhoods.
Direct action and sabotage
When wealthy people move into low-income working-class neighborhoods, the resulting class conflict sometimes involves vandalism and arson targeting the property of the gentrifiers. During the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, the gentrification of San Francisco’s predominantly working class Mission District led some long-term neighborhood residents to create what they called the “Mission Yuppie Eradication Project.(image)” This group allegedly destroyed property and called for property destruction as part of a strategy to oppose gentrification. Their activities drew hostile responses from the San Francisco Police Department, real estate interests, and “work-within-the-system” housing activists.
Meibion Glyndŵr (Welsh: Sons of Glyndŵr), also known as the Valley Commandos, was a Welsh nationalist movement violently opposed to the loss ofWelsh culture and language. They were formed in response to the housing crisis precipitated by large numbers of second homes being bought by the English which had increased house prices beyond the means of many locals. The group were responsible for setting fire to English-owned holiday homes in Wales from 1979 to the mid-1990s. In the first wave of attacks, eight holiday homes were destroyed in a month, and in 1980, Welsh Police carried out a series of raids in Operation Tân. Within the next ten years, some 220 properties were damaged by the campaign. Since the mid-1990s the group has been inactive and Welsh nationalist violence has ceased.
Wanna hear spike one more time…..
Audio: Spike Lee Goes On Epic Rant Against Gentrification In NYC
Published on Feb 26, 2014
Spike Lee mouths off on a rant about gentrification saying black culture in New York is being erased by white residents “as the mother f ****** Christopher Columbus syndrome The director raised in Brooklyn launched into a discussion of the drawbacks of gentrification Compared to Fort Greene Park ‘ motherf *****’ Wesminster Dog Show ‘ , because it is very clean Lee grew up in Brooklyn, but has lived on the Upper East Side since 2000
In jurisdictions where local or national government has these powers, there may be rent control regulations. Rent control restricts the rent that can be charged, so that incumbent tenants are not forced out by rising rents. If applicable to private landlords, it is a disincentive to speculating with property values, reduces the incidence of dwellings left empty, and limits availability of housing for new residents. If the law does not restrict the rent charged for dwellings that come onto the rental market (formerly owner-occupied or new build), rents in an area can still increase. The cities of southwestern Santa Monica and eastern West Hollywood in California, United States gentrified despite—or perhaps, because of—rent control.
Occasionally, a housing black market develops, wherein landlords withdraw houses and apartments from the market, making them available only upon payment of additional key money, fees, or bribes—thus undermining the rent control law. Many such laws allow “vacancy decontrol”, releasing a dwelling from rent control upon the tenant’s leaving—resulting in steady losses of rent-controlled housing, ultimately rendering rent control laws ineffective in communities with a high rate of resident turnover. In other cases social housing owned by local authorities may be sold to tenants and then sold on.
Vacancy decontrol encourages landlords to find ways of shortening their residents’ tenure, most aggressively through landlord harassment. To strengthen the rent control laws of New York City, New York, housing advocates active in rent control in New York are attempting to repeal the vacancy decontrol clauses of rent control laws. The state of Massachusetts abolished rent control in 1994; afterwards, rents rose, accelerating the pace of Boston‘s gentrification; however, the laws protected few apartments, and confounding factors, such as a strong economy, had already been raising housing and rental prices.
Support and criticism
Gentrification has been substantially advocated by local governments, often in the form of ‘urban restructuring’ policies. Goals of these policies include dispersing low-income residents out of the inner city and into the suburbs as well as redeveloping the city to foster mobility between both the central city and suburbia as residential options. The strain on public resources that often accompanies concentrated poverty is relaxed by the gentrification process, a benefit of changed social makeup that is favorable for the local state. The expanded tax base and increased local retail support as effects of gentrification are favorable changes for the city in an economic sense as well. However, the better part of the gentrification process has happened without much government aid. Rehabilitation movements have been largely successful at restoring the plentiful supply of old and deteriorated housing that is readily available in inner cities.
This rehabilitation can be seen as a superior alternative to expansion, for the location of the central city offers an intact infrastructure that should be taken advantage of: streets, public transportation, and other urban facilities. There is also evidence that these rehabilitation movements avoid displacement of the poor, who face the larger problem of disinvestment in concentrated poverty. Figures from surveys in 1990 showed that recently moved residents who could be considered “displaced” numbered only 5.47%, a decidedly small figure. Furthermore, the changed perception of the central city that is encouraged by gentrification can be healthy for resource-deprived communities who have previously been largely ignored.
The dominating argument against gentrification lies in the moral obligation to inhibit the adverse effects the process can have on gentrified communities. “[G]entrification is just the fin above the water. Below is the rest of the shark: a new American economy in which most of us will be poorer, a few will be far richer, and everything will be faster, more homogenous and more controlled or controllable” –Rebecca Solnit (2000)
Chester Hartman asserts that a “right to displace” in today’s society is an overwhelming fact; residential property owners can drive out non-owners in some way or another. A change of residence that is forced upon people who lack resources to cope is detrimental to individuals and families and has social costs. Studies have shown that those who are displaced are disproportionately nonwhite, elderly, poor and large households. Displacement forces them into a biased housing market, where they are often forced to settle with more expensive and less adequate space. Hartman argues that this should be met with a “right to stay put,” and that measures protecting these marginal groups from gentrification should be put into place.
Gentrification-increased property values are a positive economic development for cities when tax revenues increase consequent to increased property values, however existing residents experience the change as increased property taxes. The increased taxes force many original property owners to either pay and stay (via higher rents for their tenants) or to sell and leave the gentrifying community. In gentrifying communities without strong rent-control laws poor residents are informally evicted when they cannot afford the increased rents. As a result, such economically limited people usually oppose gentrification.
There is also the argument that gentrification reduces the social capital of the area it affects. Communities have strong ties to the history and culture of their neighborhood, and causing its dispersal can have detrimental costs. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage discussing adverse effects gentrification has on health, and provides a list of policies that would inhibit gentrification in order to prevent these impacts.
From a market standpoint, there are two main requirements that are met by the U.S. cities that undergo substantial effects of gentrification. These are: an excess supply of deteriorated housing in central areas, as well as a considerable growth in the availability of professional jobs located in central business districts. These conditions have been met in the U.S. largely as a result of suburbanization and other postindustrial phenomena.
Starting in the 1960s and 1970s, U.S. industry has created a surplus of housing units as construction of new homes has far surpassed the rate of national household growth. However, the market forces that are dictated by an excess supply cannot fully explain the geographical specificity of gentrification in the U.S., for there are many large cities that meet this requirement and have not exhibited gentrification. The missing link is another factor that can be explained by particular, necessary demand forces. In U.S. cities in the time period from 1970 to 1978, growth of the central business district at around 20% did not dictate conditions for gentrification, while growth at or above 33% yielded appreciably larger gentrification activity. Succinctly, central business district growth will activate gentrification in the presence of a surplus in the inner city housing market.
In the U.S., these conditions were generated by the economic transition from manufacturing to post-industrial service economies. The post-World War II economy experienced a service revolution, which created white-collar jobs and larger opportunities for women in the work force, as well as an expansion in the importance of centralized administrative and cooperate activities. This increased the demand for inner city residences, which were readily available cheaply after much of the movement towards central city abandonment of the 1950s. The coupling of these movements is what became the trigger for the expansive gentrification of U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Washington, D.C.
Gentrification in Atlanta has been taking place in its inner-city neighborhoods since the 1970s. Many of Atlanta’s neighborhoods experienced the urban flight that affected other major American cities in the 20th century, causing the decline of once upper and upper-middle-class east side neighborhoods. In the 1970s, after neighborhood opposition blocked two freeways from being built through the east side, its neighborhoods such as Inman Park and Virginia-Highland became the starting point for the city’s gentrification wave, first becoming affordable neighborhoods attracting young people, and by 2000 having become relatively affluent areas attracting people from across Metro Atlanta to their upscale shops and restaurants. In the 1990s and 2000s, gentrification expanded into other parts of Atlanta, spreading throughout the historic streetcar suburbs east of Downtown and Midtown, mostly areas that had long had black majorities such as the Old Fourth Ward, Kirkwood, Reynoldstown and Edgewood.
On the western side of the city, once-industrial West Midtown became into a vibrant neighborhood full of residential lofts and a nexus of the arts, restaurants, and home furnishings. Gentrification by young African Americans was also taking place in the 1990s in southwest Atlanta neighborhoods,. The BeltLine trail construction is expected to bring further gentrification in the neighborhoods alongside which it runs. Concerns about displacement of existing working-class black residents by increasing numbers of more affluent whites moving in are expressed by author Nathan McCall in his novel Them, in The Atlanta Progressive News, and in the documentary The Atlanta Way.
The city of Boston, Massachusetts, has seen several neighborhoods undergo significant periods of urban renewal, specifically during the 1960s to the 1980s. Called “turbo-gentrification” by sociologist Alan Wolfe, particular areas of study of the process have been done in South End, Bay Village, and West Cambridge. In Boston’s North End, the destruction of the noisy Central Artery elevated highway attracted younger, more affluent new residents, in place of the traditional Italian immigrant culture.
The gentrification of the Beacon Hill area was also the object of focus of the New York Times in 1999; Carey Goldberg wrote, “from shabby gentility to $3 million price tags on town houses without garages that allow passers-by on snowy days the unusual sight of a billionaire or two clearing off their cars.” Houses in the area were being sold for $100,000 in 1970, and first entered the 1 million range in 1984. Other neighborhoods of the Boston area show similar statistics on the influx of affluent residents to previously deteriorated housing areas, as well as the spike in property values and political and social activity for new residents that are often distinctive of the gentrification process.
- South End
In the early 1960s, Boston’s South End had a great many characteristics of a neighborhood that is prime for gentrification. The available housing was architecturally sound and unique row houses in a location with high accessibility to urban transport services, while surrounded by small squares and parks. A majority of the area had also been designated a National Historic District.
South End became deteriorated by the 1960s. Many of the row houses had been converted to cheap apartments, and the neighborhood was plagued by dominant, visible poverty. The majority of the residents were working-class individuals and families with a significant need for public housing and other social services. The situation was recognized by local governments as unfavorable, and in 1960 became the target of an urban renewal effort of the city.
The construction of the Prudential Tower complex that was finished in 1964 along the northwest border of South End was a spark for this urban-renewal effort and the gentrification process for the area that surrounded it. The complex increased job availability in the area, and the cheap housing stock of South End began to attract a new wave of residents. The next 15 years saw an influx of predominantly affluent, young professionals who purchased and renovated houses in South End. Unfortunately, tension characterized the relationship between these new residents and the previous residents of the neighborhood. Clashes in the vision for the area’s future was the main source of conflict. The previous, poorer residents, contended that “renewal” should focus on bettering the plight of South End’s poor, while new, middle-class residents heavily favored private market investment opportunities and shunned efforts such as subsidized housing with the belief that they would flood the market and raise personal security concerns.
- Bay Village
The late 1940s was a transition for the area from primarily families with children as residents to a population dominated by both retired residents and transient renters. The 2–3 story brick row houses were largely converted to low-cost lodging houses, and the neighborhood came to be described as “blighted” and “down at heel.” This deterioration was largely blamed on the transient population.
The year 1957 began the upgrading of what was to become Bay Village, and these changes were mainly attributed to new artists and gay men moving to the area. These “marginal” gentrifiers made significant efforts towards superficial beautification as well as rehabilitation of their new homes, setting the stage for realtors to promote the rising value of the area.
Of the homebuyers in Bay Village from 1957 to 1975, 92% had careers as white-collar professionals. 42% of these homebuyers were 25–34 years old. The majority of them were highly educated and moving from a previous residence in the city, suggesting ties to an urban-based educational institution. The reasons new homebuyers gave for their choice of residence in Bay Village was largely attributed to its proximity to downtown, as well as an appreciation for city life over that of suburbia (Pattison 1977).
- West Cambridge
The development and gentrification of West Cambridge began in 1960 as the resident population began to shift away from the traditional majority of working class Irish immigrants. The period of 1960–1975 had large shifts in homebuyer demographics comparable to that experienced by Bay Village. Professional occupations were overrepresented in homebuyers during this 15-year period, as well as the age group of 25–34 years old. Residents reported a visible lack of social ties between new homebuyers and the original residents. However, displacement was not cited as a problem because the primary reason of housing sale remained the death of the sole-surviving member of the household or the death of a spouse.
Researcher Timothy Pattison divided the gentrification process of West Cambridge into two main stages. Stage one began with various architects and architectural students who were attracted to the affordability of the neighborhood. The renovations efforts these “marginal” gentrifiers undertook seemed to spark a new interest in the area, perhaps as word of the cheap land spread to the wider student community.
The Peabody Schools also served as an enticing factor for the new gentrifiers for both stages of new homebuyers. Stage two of the process brought more architects to the area as well as non-architect professionals, often employed at a university institution. The buyers in stage two cited Peabody schools and the socioeconomic mix of the neighborhood as primary reasons for their residential choice, as well as a desire to avoid job commutes and a disenchantment with the suburban life.
Philadelphia: Darien Street
Gentrification Amid Urban Decline: Strategies for America’s Older Cities, by Michael Lang, reports the process and impact (social, economic, cultural) of gentrification. In particular, it focuses on the section of Darien Street (a north-south street running intermittently from South to North Philadelphia) which is essentially an alley in the populous Bella Vista neighborhood. That part of Darien Street was a “back street”, because it does not connect to any of the city’s main arteries and was unpaved for most of its existence.
In its early days, this area of Darien Street housed only Italian families, however, after the Second World War (1939–1945), when the municipal government spoke of building a cross-town highway, the families moved out. Most of the houses date from 1885 (built for the artisans and craftsmen who worked and lived in the area), but, when the Italian Americans moved out, the community’s low-rent houses went to poor African American families.
Moreover, by the early 1970s, blighted Darien Street was at its lowest point as a community, because the houses held little property value, many were abandoned, having broken heaters and collapsed roofs, et cetera. Furthermore, the houses were very small — approximately 15 feet (4.6 m) wide and 15 feet (4.6 m) deep, each had three one-room stories (locally known, and still currently advertised as a “Trinity” style house) and the largest yard was 8 feet (2.4 m) deep. Despite the decay, Darien Street remained charmed with European echoes, each house was architecturally different, contributing to the street’s community character; children were safe, there was no car traffic. The closeness of the houses generated a closely knit community located just to the south of Center City, an inexpensive residential neighborhood a short distance from the city-life amenities of Philadelphia; the city government did not hesitate to rehabilitate it.
The gentrification began in 1977; the first house rehabilitated was a corner property that a school teacher re-modeled and occupied. The next years featured (mostly) white middle-class men moving into the abandoned houses; the first displacement of original Darien Street residents occurred in 1979. Two years later, five of seven families had been economically evicted with inflated housing prices; the two remaining families were renters, expecting eventual displacement. In five years, from 1977 to 1982, the gentrification of Darien Street reduced the original population from seven black households and one white household, to two black households and eleven white households.
The average rent increased 488 per cent — from $85 to $500 a month; by 1981, a house bought for $5,000 sold for $35,000. Of the five black households displaced, three found better houses within two blocks of their original residence, one family left Pennsylvania, and one family moved into a public housing apartment building five blocks from Darien Street. The benefits of the Darien Street gentrification included increased property tax revenues and better-quality housing. The principal detriment was residential displacement via higher priced housing.
Gentrification in Washington, D.C. is one of the most studied examples of the process, as well as one of the most extreme. The process in the U Street Corridor and other downtown areas has recently become a major issue, and the resulting changes have led to African-Americans dropping from a majority to a minority of the population, as they move out and middle-class whites and Asians have moved in.
D.C. is one of the top three cities with the most pronounced capital flow into its “core” neighborhoods, a measurement that has been used to detect areas experiencing gentrification. Researcher Franklin James found that, of these core areas, Capitol Hill was significantly revitalized during the decade of 1960–1970, and by the end of the decade this revitalization had extended outward in a ring around this core area.
Dennis Gale studied these ‘Revitalization Areas,’ which include Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan, and Capitol Hill neighborhoods, and as compared to the rest of the district found that these areas were experiencing a faster rate of depopulation in the 1970s than the surrounding areas. U.S. census data show that in the Revitalization Areas, the percent of population with four or more years of college education rose from 24% in 1970 to 47% in 1980, as opposed to an increase of 21% to 24% for the remaining areas of D.C. Additionally, Gale’s data show in 1970 that 73% of the residents living in the Revitalization Areas had been residents since 1965, as opposed to only 66% of the residents living there in 1975 had been residents of the area in 1970 as well.
The gentrification during this time period resulted in a significant problem of displacement for marginalized D.C. residents in the 1970s. A decrease in the stock of affordable housing for needy households as well as non subsidized housing for low-income workers has had a burdensome effect on individuals and families.
As a result of gentrification, however, Washington, D.C.’s safety has improved drastically. In the early 1990s, the city had an average of 500 homicides a year; by 2012, the rate had dropped by more than 80% to about 100. Many of the city’s poorer residents were pushed out toPrince George’s County, Maryland. Prince George’s County saw a huge spark of violent crimes in 2008 and 2009, but the rate has decreased since then.
Back to Spike…..
The legendary “Do The Right Thing” director laid into an audience member on Tuesday night, who suggested during Lee’s speech at Pratt Institute there were benefits of gentrification.
“Let me just kill you right now,” said Lee, who then went into a rant about the gentrification that has changed his home borough.
“Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning?” Lee yelled into the microphone Tuesday during his expletive-laced, 90-minute Black History Month speech. “It’s like the m—–f—–g Westminster dog show.”
He blasted what he calls the “Christopher Columbus syndrome” of neighborhoods “discovered” by wealthy gentrifiers — a scourge that’s allowed real estate agents and “m—-f—–g hipsters” to change even the names of neighborhoods like the South Bronx to SoBro or Bushwick to East Williamsburg. “These Williamsburg m—–f—–s are changing the names,” said Lee.
The number of black homeowners who invested in tough neighborhoods decades ago and now stand to make money is small, Lee said, and it wasn’t until whites moved in that city schools, policing and garbage pickup improved.
“Why,” Lee asked, “did it take this great influence of white people to get the schools better?”
Good question Spike, why does it take caucasian intervention in anything beneficial to Black America, before it happens, when we Black Americans have such great spokesmen such as yourself….fighting for Us?
Throughout the month Of February, TheObamaCrat™ will post a daily series called The Black History Moment Series. Each day for 28 days of this historic month you will be given the food of Black History to satisfy your hunger for knowledge.
Here below is the link to the complete Black History Moment Series. Black History Month 2014 Presents: Celebrating Black History Month; The Black History Moment Series, #1 thru #27….
In Case You Missed This Series….Black History Month 2014 Presents: Celebrating Black History Month; The Black History Moment Series.
Filed under: Politics | Tagged: And Why Spike Lee Is FINALLY Correct About Something, At an event at Pratt last night, Bed Stuy, Black History Month, Brooklyn, Celebrating Black History Month. The Black History Moment Series #27: Gentrification, Christopher Columbus Syndrome, Crown Heights, Do the Right Thing, Fort Greene Park, Gentrification, Giancarlo Esposito, Harlem, New York Times, New Yorkers, Pratt Institute, Rome, Ruth Glass, South Bronx, Spike Lee, Spike Lee’s 7-Minute Rant About The ‘Motherf*cking Hipsters’ Gentrifying Brooklyn | 22 Comments »