4 reasons why gentrification is scary

gentrification (n.)   

process in which formerly run-down urban neighborhoods get “discovered” and flooded with richer residents, which causes property values to increase, pricing out lower-income families and small businesses

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Though it may not be done with bad intentions, the result can be devastating to the residents who are pushed out of the path of development. Gentrification can also cause clashes between classes instead of bringing people together as a community.

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These #boycottairbnb posters in Berlin complain that the service is contributing to gentrification. Photograph: Agata Lisiak

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A member of the Mountain View Tenants Coalition. Photograph: Daniel DeBolt

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A graffiti in Barcelona’s Güell park which reads: “Tourist: your luxury trip / My daily misery”

It leads to displacement, eviction, and forced homelessness

Neighborhoods are created by the people who live in them and most of the time, the people who make neighborhoods culturally rich and lively are the same people who end up being displaced, preventing them from enjoying the benefits of the communities they created. Gentrification causes a forced exodus of poor people and minorities to make room for more affluent people. 

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It takes away cultural landmarks 

Gentrifiers don’t continue the culture of the local areas. They override them to cultivate their own standards, taking away cultural landmarks built by the displaced population.

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It creates a lack of financial income

Small businesses are not able to survive with the competition moving into town, they are forced to sell their storefront. It creates a lack of financial income for the neighborhoods. Mom and Pop shops are taken away and replaced by department stores, for example.

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Gentrification occurs when a working-class or poor urban area becomes popular for certain middle-class groups, who increasingly take over the area and displace the previous resident.

 

 

Skid Row, a Los Angeles neighborhood, is known as America’s Homelessness capital

© Desirée Van Hoek from her ‘Skid Row’ series

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It increases violence and clashes

Gentrification increases violence: the police mistreats the low-income residents of gentrified neighborhoods. Anti-“broken-windows” laws, part of a program called Safer Cities Initiative, have banned sleeping on Skid Row streets (Los Angeles) from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., causing conflicts.

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Skid Row overlooked by the rest of downtown LA
Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

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Two examples of gentrified neighborhoods around the world

 

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BO-KAAP, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

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The neighborhood is the home of the first mosque in South Africa, it’s considered the birthplace of Islam in the south of the continent. Under Apartheid, the neighborhood was formally created as residences for the Cape Malays – descendants of Javanese slaves who were brought to South Africa by Dutch settler. Despite being called Cape Malays, these people came from places as wide-ranging as Madagascar, East Africa, North Africa, Yemen, India, Indonesia, and Malaysia. 

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Bo-Kaap and its culture were preserved because then, the mixing of races was prohibited. But more recently, white South Africans and foreigners have been buying up property. Bo-Kaap’s location in central Cape Town, its unique architecture and its views of Table Mountains sure has something to do with its gentrification…

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[The close-knit community is] facing a slow dissolution of its distinctive character as wealthy outsiders move into the suburb to snap up homes in the City Bowl at cut-rate prices. – Voice of the Cape

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KREUZBERG, BERLIN, GERMANY

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Man and children walking in the streets of Kreuzberg, Berlin

In the late sixties, a large number of students, artists, and immigrants began moving to Kreuzberg. The area, enclosed by the Berlin Wall on three sides, became famous for its alternative lifestyle.

The neighborhood has been home to the city’s punk rock movement and other subcultures in Germany. It has become a center for rap and breakdance within the capital city and it has long been the epicenter of LGBTQ life and arts in Berlin.

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SO36: a renown punk rock music club located in the neighborhood

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Movies like Alltag (i.e everyday life in German) by Neco Çelik or Pool of Princesses by Bettina Blümner depict life in the neighborhood of Kreuzberg. Alltag can be seen as a “testament to the Americanization of cultures in Europe”. Indeed, it portrays the prevalence of hip-hop and gang culture in Germany. PoP focuses on the everyday lives of three Kreuzberg-native teenage girls.

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