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Many people have expressed their feelings in regards to gentrification, which is the process where land developers buy and renovate homes in poor neighborhoods so that the middle-class people can take up residency. This causes the low-income families to have to deal with the dilemma of looking for residency elsewhere. Some people are for it, some people are against it, and some people have mixed feelings about it. Not too long ago, I had a conversation with my father in regards to what he felt about gentrification and he didn’t seem to be in favor of it at all. Land developers were starting this process in his neighborhood and because he is a tax payer, he knew that the changes in his neighborhood would effect the taxes that he’d have to pay for his property.
Although I understood his point of view, I was still on the fence of whether or not gentrification was the wrong answer to rebuilding many of these neighborhoods that were neglected. As I thought more and more about this subject, I realized that there are some positive attributes in regards to the subject as well as the possibility of it having a negative impact on the lives of those that have lived in these communities for many years.
On one hand, gentrification can cause the neighborhood to not only look way more appealing, it has the possibility to lower the unemployment rate. For example, there’s an urban area in Pittsburgh that’s called East Liberty and several years ago, the area looked like the aftermath of Vietnam war. There were plenty of houses that were abandoned/boarded up, potholes were all over the place (just like Cleveland), and the landscape looked unkempt. Once land developers started to take over, changes happened and they happened immediately.
They tore down the abandoned eyesores and started building up a great amount of businesses that not only made the area look more appealing and inviting, you can best believe that it also brought more revenue into the city. Due to the growth of the area, more people are able to get a job which means that there’s a possibility that the unemployment rate will go down. More young professionals visit East Liberty and it has become the area that people are desiring to move to. They have great attractions and since the Google headquarters is located right there and they are planning on hiring thousands of individuals for their corporation, I guess it’s safe to say that East Liberty has been saved from being completely destroyed.
On the other hand, there are some main downfalls of gentrification and one of them is the possibility that many people will get pushed out of their homes due to the changes to neighborhood. People that have lived in their neighborhood for years may get forced to move out once a land developer gets the green light to develop in that community. This means that many people have to move to certain areas that they’re not accustomed to. Some may feel that this type of change is not a big deal but for some, leaving behind good memories and a neighborhood that they love can be a hard pill to swallow.
Another issue at hand is the major possibility of property taxes increasing for those that choose to stay in the revamped neighborhoods. For some, it may just be a small pinch to their wallets. For others, that pinch may feel like a punch and unfortunately the rise of the property taxes on their homes may cause them to relocate. Furthermore, many from the Black community believe these types of changes will drive out a certain class of people such as Blacks and low income families.
I can totally understand the concerns of the Black community in regards to this because that could be considered discrimination. However, on the flip side, gentrification will reduce the undesirables (thugs and gang bangers) from tearing up the new neighborhood because they will not be allowed to live in those areas. Let’s be honest; no one wants to invest money into an area, fix it up, and allow the same individuals to live there and tear it all apart. So as of right now, I look at gentrification as a good and bad thing. Although it may drive some people out of their neighborhoods, sometimes we’re left with no choice but to trust the change or things in the neighborhood may get worse.
Copyright © 2014 by Sonica Jackson
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