SOCY 327 Blog #8: 3/25-3/31

Definition of Gentrification

“The term gentrification refers to the processes by which higher income or higher status people relocate to or invest in low-income urban neighborhoods”.

I chose this quote because I think that Stacey Sutton defines gentrification very well, especially for a definition that is “oversimplistic” as she says. I like when she describes how when higher income individuals move to these areas, “it’s typically to capitalize on the low property values, in doing so they inflate property values”. Gentrification is sociologically important because of the effects on race and class in our society. It is important to understand this because many people mistake gentrification for people moving in to make a neighborhood nicer in some way, but the definition is much broader than that.

Connections to Redlining

“…Standards set by the federal government and carried out by banks explicitly labeled neighborhoods home to predominantly people of color as risky and unfit for investment.”

Although other federal policies and regulations played a role in gentrification, I believe that redlining is one of the most important causes of gentrification because as a result of it, people of color were discriminated against much more explicitly than with some other federal policies and this shows the blatant disregard for the quality of life of people of color. Redlining is important sociologically because it helps us better understand how deeply rooted in racism and politics gentrification was and is today in the real estate market.

Voices from Oakland

“To those who aren’t cashing in on the new tech economy, the Bay Area can feel like a hostile place…… This hasn’t happened out of nowhere. Nor was it inevitable. Rather, it’s the result of decades of deliberate actions: disinvestment, redlining, predatory lending, a lack of affordable housing construction and preservation, as well as too few tenant protections.”

This quote describes the experience of gentrification from someone who has been on both sides of it, living in the neighborhood before and after gentrification. The source of this quote discusses living in a once quiet Bay Area and it suddenly, due to government inference and a booming new tech economy, growing into a bustling area for nightlife and other entertainment among young people. The problem with being on both sides of gentrification is that this person saw the negative impacts before and after gentrification in the Bay Area. Before, the neighborhood seemed “deserted”, but now with bars, restaurants, and new housing everywhere, there are more people without homes and losing their businesses. This is important because it is a good example of how wealthy individuals benefit from gentrification while lower income individuals are left to pick up the pieces.

Voices from Brooklyn

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“Is “gentrification” really the right word for what’s been happening in New York City today?”

“So yes, gentrification is a more appropriate term for the process today than it was even 50 years ago…..  The class remake of the city was minor, small scale and symbolic in the beginning but today we are seeing a total class retake of the central city.”

Smith discusses the gentrification of New York, comparing it to gentrification over 50 years ago where gentrification “happened in one house here, a street there” rather than “a systematic attempt to remake a central city, to take it back from the working class, from minorities, from homeless people, from immigrants”. I found these quotes very interesting because although I assumed that gentrification happened 50+ years ago, I would’ve thought that it was just as large-scale of a change then as today. Understanding the difference is important because this shows that there are other factors that tie in to gentrification including a small-scale change before it was as large as it is today.

“My Brooklyn” Quote

“What’s happening in the Downtown area, the rent is going up so rapidly that I don’t think our growth is fast enough tot keep us here in the Downtown Brooklyn area”

“Some landlords were raising rent in anticipation of big chain stores coming in. One store, Diamond Girl, announced they had to close because their rent increased from $15,000 to $45,000 a month”

I found it very interesting to find out how many businesses were truly affected by gentrification in Brooklyn. When people think of gentrification, usually the first thing that comes to mind is how people are being kicked out of their homes, but one thing that we don’t think about as much are the businesses that get kicked out as well. Many local business owners deal with the problem of finding another place for their business, but even that can be difficult because of gentrification in their area.

Who Benefits?

“Banks and other financial institutions are the primary causes and beneficiaries of gentrification”

One thing that I can admit is that I haven’t thought of who truly benefits from gentrification. My first answer would’ve been the people moving in, but this quotes shows that gentrification is bigger than people moving in to a revitalized city, as banks and even franchises can benefit from gentrification. Banks such as Wells Fargo participated in a home modification program and was even sued not long after. This is strong evidence that even our banks have a hand in gentrification and we don’t even know it.

Who is Negatively Impacted? And How?

“To many, this might feel like a welcomed change from the years of neglect. But these changes have coincided with evictions and the displacement of people from their homes and businesses. Particularly those who are low-income and people of color”

This quote from the Oakland Bay Area article shows that long-term residents are very much affected by gentrification because they are forced to leave their homes that they’ve been in for years and after being forced out, are just left with nothing or a place to go. With most of the people being forced out low income individuals, gentrification forces these individuals into an even worse situation with redlining and those who worked in the area that they lived could be losing that job due to gentrification of businesses.

How are People Responding to/Resisting Gentrification?

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“They are organizing to press city government to adopt mandatory inclusionary zoning requirements in order to capture some of the benefits from the current building boom”

Although they don’t discuss it much throughout this article, an article about gentrification in New York discusses how residents who are still living in non-gentrified areas are fighting back by trying to make gentrified neighborhoods more inclusive to low income families while also trying to push Congress to stop cutting federal housing program funds.

Gentrification in Richmond

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“Just holding on:  Tax bill going up. Water bill going up. Everything going up — but your income.”

Gentrification has been happening all over the United States, but one thing that we should think about is how close to home that this is happening for some. Gentrification in Richmond has been an interesting topic recently, as Scott’s Addition has been a subject of gentrification. With many restaurants and bars, it has become a place for families to indulge. Another Richmond neighborhood that has recently began the process of gentrification is Church Hill. The quote above is from a current resident, who discusses how all bills have been increasing and she’s been going home to new neighbors, in awe every time. This shows that gentrification can be happening anywhere.

Gentrification Resistance in Atlanta

“Stop Gentrification: Keep Residents in Place”

This quote is from a short article about gentrification resistance in Atlanta. A group of community youth called the Community Movement Builders launched an anti-gentrification campaign in order to raise awareness to fellow neighbors and community advocates. Many community advocates have also been trying to keep Black businesses open by urging community members to support each others’ businesses. The quote above is a slogan that the Community Movement Builders use when protesting.



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