Gentrification/Segregation

I’ve had to tell myself, early and often, that I want to live in the city, that I made a real decision to be here.  Sometimes, living any where seems like a bad decision.  Especially when it’s hot. The smog, the noise, the cars, the cars, the cars and the honking and the city and the buses and your bag that is heavy, for some reason, and the constant need to be at point A by 2pm and to be a point B by 3pm. Living in a city is unique because everyone has some place to be except the people that have no place to be, at noon, holding up a building by leaning on it.  I passed dozen of them yesterday, as I hustled and bustled to get my new license.  I live in the DC, now.  I might as well get a license.  An official move to show that I am in this to win this, even though there is no end game to being an adult, except dying or getting your children to take care of you is the reward to pay bills for fifty years straight.

Anyway, this post is about gentrification.

This post came based off another blog post, where the writer’s were trying to give “tips” to people who were gentrifying areas.  Gentrification, for those who aren’t sure what it is, can be summed up in the following way.

-There is a poor neighborhood.

-People with money move into the neighborhood and fix the cheap homes up, putting money into these homes, increasing the homes value.

-More people do the same, increasing the area’s value as a whole.

-Businesses move into the area to cater to this new money that has moved into the area.

-The entire area increases in value.

-The controversial bit:  Because the area increases in value, the property values sometime go up, causing the original people who lived there in the first place not to be able to afford to live there any longer.

The question is whether gentrification is good or bad.  Because everything is either good or bad.  There is no grey in this world.  That’s sarcasm.

The real issue with gentrification is the same issue we’ve had with segregation. But this isn’t a racial issue, even if people want to keep saying it is. This segregation is completely economic. But the racial part can’t help but show it’s head, can it?  We keep coming back to it, don’t we?  There are a ton of reasons why more blacks and latinos are poor relative to whites.  It is a consistent fact and a true one. But the underlying problems/solutions attached to gentrification are economic problems, not racial.  It is class, not race.  It is always class, not race.

When an area is gentrified, it is integrated economically. Poor people living right next door to rich people. Because of that, the area changes. Starbucks. A fire station. Better bus service and more cops. America is a capitalistic society and our infrastructure protects those with money. We all know this. Of course the gentrified/integrated area becomes quote unquote “better”. And that’s the problem.

The problem with gentrification is that it is a revelation of the inherit problem of capitalism and market solutions. Poor people live in areas where the land is cheap and the houses are cheap to buy. People with more money come into these areas and buy these houses. They don’t do it because they want the poor to have a better quality of life or because some altruistic need to make these areas better.  They do this because the houses are cheaper. They force the area to change, for the shops to change, for the area to change, to suit their needs. Money has caused the change and I don’t trust any change brought about by money. In order for capitalism to work, it has to consume everything it can, move from area to area. My conflicting feeling is rooted in the idea that gentrification does make for a better, safer neighborhood. But what would happen if these richer people didn’t move to these poorer areas? The resources rich people bring would not be there, and the area would still be horrible. Until neighborhoods become safer and better, not because of who lived there, but because they should be safe neighborhoods, we’ll continue to live in a economically segregated world.

We shouldn’t live in a world where the people with money decide our quality of life. But that’s the exact world we live in, and we continue to allow this to happen.

There is an article from City Paper about the subject.  You should peep it here.

Advertisements