By Yesenia Ortega-Valencia
Gentrification has been happening throughout the past century and is on the rise recently especially in highly coveted urban areas. A substantial group of people believe gentrification is a problem because of the displacement of longtime residents and the related ethical questions that arise when people are forced to move because of rising housing costs brought on by neighborhood development.
Researchers of UCLA and UC Berkeley have made studies about gentrification and displacement. “It helps us better understand several questions related to gentrification and displacement: Just how extensive is displacement, exactly what kinds of people are displaced, and how do people and groups fare after they leave gentrifying neighborhoods?” They want to perceive what occurs because of gentrification, such as who are the ones who are displaced and how they manage the conditions afterwards.
“By the turn of this century, many cities were thriving again, and their desirability among the wealthy and upwardly mobile was putting intense pressure on rents, real estate prices, and low-income communities.” City planner Benjamin Grant referred to the issue on gentrification, emotionally in part about it affecting low-income people the most. He acknowledged that gentrification may be useful in some ways regarding the overall lifestyle of a community, but added on that only a certain portion of people are able to experience them. Grant explained that gentrification could in ways bring positive effects but has also downside effects of these as well.
The movie Flag Wars shows what results from gentrification in cities and what type of people are affected by the process. “Flag Wars tells the story of what happened to the Olde Towne East community in Columbus, Ohio when the neighborhood went through the process of gentrification in the mid-to-late 1990s. For much of the twentieth century, urbanists, policymakers, and activists were preoccupied with inner city decline across the United States, as people with money and options fled cities for the suburbs. But widespread reports of the American city’s demise proved premature.” Gentrification took place in Olde Towne East community in Columbus Ohio in the 90s where people in the upper class started moving in the neighborhood. Also adding that people’s impulses of living in superior conditions would lead matters into making changes that would separate certain groups due to affordability.
Karen Chappel , a Professor of City and Regional Planning at UC Berkeley, also a Faculty Director, Center for Community Innovation, brought up the issue of Bay Area residents spending more than the rest in the U.S. on housing. “The purpose of this report is to create an early warning toolkit to help communities identify whether their neighborhood is susceptible to gentrification as reinvestment occurs.” Her main intention was to communicate possibilities that certain places can become gentrified to help people avoid them. Chapple looks at gentrification as a problem because of the displacement it brings for low-income people and thrives to help others prevent facing this issue through research and information.
“It is important to agree upon a key indicator that measures when a neighborhood is at-risk of gentrification and can serve as a “trigger” for investment of resources to prevent or mitigate displacement. I like economist Daniel Hartley’s key indicator: a neighborhood is gentrifying if it is located in the central city of a metropolitan area and it goes from being in the bottom half of the distribution of home prices in the metropolitan area to the top half.” Executive Director of Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation, David Price provides details of ways gentrification can lead to certain issues and how one may prevent being part of the effects of it. He also goes into more detail about what certain aspects are or are not considered to be gentrification of cities. He looks into what causes gentrification, who has more power over it and how becoming a stabilized community can help improve this issue along with balance of powers.
The Mission in San Francisco has become a place where many people want to live because of the flat land, culture and environment. Due to that, rent prices went up by an extreme and several people were no longer able to afford those prices and were left with no choice other than to leave. This affected all types of people including those who have lived in the Mission all their lives.
This same series of events occurred for the Mosqueda family. They were raised and lived in the Mission for many years. More people started coming and wanted to live in the Mission. The Mosqueda were not able to afford the house their deceased parents had worked hard to acquire for them, so they had no choice but to sell it.
Like this family, many others have been pushed to leave to find another place they could afford to pay. As the majority moving in were white, the amount of Latinos leaving the area was increasing. Now, a family of three who were able to offer enough for the costs of housing there, are living in the house that once belonged to the Mosqueda family.
Clearly, gentrification is a process in which many people feel the effects. Although it is still an issue that a lot of people are facing, it is getting more recognition as an issue. The more people see gentrification as an issue the more likely people will do something about it.
Trying to ignore gentrification and the tragic displacement it causes will lead to ignorance and immoral actions. That is why there are people informing others about it and are also standing up to face it.