Gentrification

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 In San Francisco, during the mid-1960s, the bohemian center of the city shifted from the old Beat enclave of North Beach to Haight-Ashbury (pictured) as a response to gentrification.  Haight-Ashbury itself has now fully gentrified, and the San Francisco bohemia moved on to other parts of the city like the Lower Haight, the Mission District, and SoMa.
In San Francisco, during the mid-1960s, the bohemian center of the city shifted from the old Beat enclave of North Beach to Haight-Ashbury (pictured) as a response to gentrification. Haight-Ashbury itself has now fully gentrified, and the San Francisco bohemia moved on to other parts of the city like the Lower Haight, the Mission District, and SoMa.

Gentrification, or more specifically urban gentrification, is a process in which low-cost, physically deteriorated neighborhoods experience physical renovation and an increase in property values, along with an influx of wealthier residents who typically displace the prior residents.[1][2]

Proponents of gentrification, including the FannieMae foundation, focus on the benefits of urban renewal, such as renewed investment in physically deteriorating locales, improved access to lending capital for low-income mortgage seekers as their property values increase, increased rates of lending to minority and first-time home purchasers to invest in the now-appreciating area and improved physical conditions for renters.[3] Typically initiated by private capital, this process has been linked to reductions in crime rates, increased property values and renewed community activism.[citation needed]

Gentrification's opponents point out the human cost to the neighborhood's lower-class residents.[citation needed] The increase in rents often forces the dispersal of old communities whose members find that they can no longer afford the rent in their home neighborhood, and similarly brings about the closing of long-established businesses. The increase in property taxes may sometimes force homeowners to sell their houses and seek refuge in cheaper neighborhoods. While its supporters praise its effect on neighborhood's crime rate those against it point out that the crime has not disappeared but merely shifted to an even lower-rent neighborhood.

Contents

[edit] Phenomenon

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Gentrification can be a contentious issue.[4] It highlights the instability of renting: people might be forced to move away from newly desirable areas because the landlords increase rents.

Demographic changes often occur because an increase in average income causes a decline in the proportion of racial minorities, a reduction in the size of the households, and low-income families are replaced by “up and coming” singles and couples.[citation needed] In American cities, the new, wealthier demographic of the neighborhood can sometimes resemble the original populace for which the neighborhood was constructed. In these cases, gentrification represents the reversal of the white flight phenomenon.

Real estate markets can also change due to large increases in rent and home prices, increases in the number of evictions, increases in ownership of formerly rented homes, and new development of upscale housing. The use of the land in the area may also change, as formerly industrial areas become converted to office and/or residential use (lofts). New retail and restaurants are built, eventually followed by luxury housing. This often brings with it a change in culture and character. Neighborhoods prior to gentrification often have a unique style formed by their longtime residents. As these residents become displaced by newcomers, ideas about what is attractive change, and standards for architecture, landscape, and public norms (including behavior, noise, and nuisance) change as well (Grant).

Property owners can also feel the effects of gentrification through increases in property taxes. Property taxes are typically based on a percentage of a property's assessed value. As property values increase in a given neighborhood, municipalities will typically reassess the values of properties within gentrifying communities resulting in higher property taxes for the neighborhood's long-term owners. If the owners cannot afford the tax increases, they are forced to sell (or, if they own a multi-family dwelling, they may pass the increases on to tenants in the form of higher rents). However, the increase in property value will increase the selling price of the property, so in purely financial terms this phenomenon generally enriches the owners.

[edit] Etymology

Gentrification derives from the word "gentry", meaning the people of gentle birth, good breeding, or high social position. As in the landed-gentry. Sociologist Ruth Glass coined the term in 1964 to mean the influx of wealthier individuals into cities or neighborhoods who replace working or lower-classes already living there. She defined it by using London districts such as Islington as her example:

One by one, many of the working class quarters of London have been invaded by the middle-classes—upper and lower. Shabby, modest mews and cottages—two rooms up and two down—have been taken over, when their leases have expired, and have become elegant, expensive residences [...]. Once this process of 'gentrification' starts in a district it goes on rapidly until all or most of the original working-class occupiers are displaced and the whole social character of the district is changed.[citation needed]

[edit] Theories on gentrification

[edit] Urban renewal

The most simplistic reasons for gentrification may be that, increasingly, locations in city centers have attracted affluent post-baby boomer professionals and/or their empty nester parents. This New Urbanist movement may be more or less socially driven. If a depressed urban area has a transportation hub, pedestrian accessibility and social interaction, it may be considered more desirable than the sprawl and car-dependent lifestyle of the average suburban community.

For the average urban working-class renter, buses and trains are vital to their livelihood. The ideal is different for the wealthy newcomers, who like the advantage of a car for longer commutes, but walk or use public transportation when traveling to the closer shops, cafes, and boutiques.[citation needed]

[edit] Production-side theory

Early explanations of gentrification saw a conflict between production-side and consumption-side arguments. The production-side argument, which is associated primarily with the work of geographer Neil Smith, explains gentrification through economics and the relationships between flows of capital and the production of urban space. Smith argued that low rents on the urban periphery during the two decades after World War II led to a continuous movement of capital toward the development of suburban areas. This caused a 'devaluation' of inner-city capital, resulting in the substantial abandonment of inner-city properties in favour of those in the periphery, and a consequent fall in the price of inner-city land relative to rising land prices in the suburbs. From this, Smith put forth his rent-gap theory, which describes the disparity between "the actual capitalized ground rent (land value) of a plot of land given its present use and the potential ground rent that might be gleaned under a 'higher and better' use" (Smith, 1987b, p. 462).

Smith believed that the rent-gap theory was the fundamental explanation for the process of gentrification. He argued that when the rent-gap was wide enough, developers, landlords, and other people with a vested interest in the development of land would see the potential profit to be had in reinvesting in inner-city properties and redeveloping them for new inhabitants. Such redevelopment effectively closes the rent-gap and leads to higher rent, mortgage and lease rates.

The de-industrialization of the inner-city is seen as a prerequisite, precipitating a decline in the number of blue-collar jobs available for the urban working class and thus a loss of investment capital available to maintain the physical stock of urban neighborhoods. De-industrialization is often coupled with the growth of a divided white collar employment sector, one part of which is engaged in professional/managerial positions which follow the spatial centralization of capital. This is a product of corporations requiring spatial proximity to reduce decision-making time.

[edit] Consumption-side theory

The consumption-side theory, on the other hand, has gained more force as an explanation for gentrification. Supporters of this argument generally view the characteristics of gentrifiers themselves to be of greater importance in the understanding of gentrification. The post-industrial city, as defined in the Dictionary of Human Geography, is one with an "employment profile focused on advanced services…, [with a] profile that is materialized in a downtown skyline of office towers, arts and leisure sites, and political institutions. Its middle-class ambiance may be reflected in a distinctive politics charged with a responsible social ethos…the demand for more amenities, for greater beauty and a better quality of life in the arrangement of our cities" (616).

David Ley has been one of the foremost thinkers in purporting this idea of a city that is becoming more and more influenced by the emerging "new middle class." Ley defines as a subset of this sector a "cultural new class," made up of artists, cultural professionals, teachers, and other professionals outside of the private sector (1994, 56). And, although not particularly dwelt upon in Ley’s articles, these are the first stage gentrifiers who prepare the way for the embourgeoisment of the inner city (and, in effect, the more conservative politics) that often follows them—conservative politics which often lead to decreased funding for affordable housing, stricter laws dealing with the homeless and other people affected negatively by their original displacement by the creative class. This sentiment can also be found in Zukin’s "second-wave" observations in the artist’s lofts in Manhattan, who, when her building went "co-op" in 1979, "bade good-bye to the manufacturers, an artist, and several residents who could not afford the market prices at which our lofts were sold," residents who were replaced by lawyers and accountants, retailers and investment bankers (1989, xiv). This same process can be seen still today, as "artists move into otherwise undesirable buildings, usually make significant improvements to their spaces and their surrounding areas. Everyone benefits from these tenuous and uneasy…arrangements. Then landlords, suddenly aware that they are sitting on gold mines, rush to cash in" (Cash 2001, 39).

Whereas Smith and other Marxists often take a structural approach in their explanations of gentrification, Ley’s work instead frames gentrification as a natural outgrowth of the rise of professional employment in the CBD and the predilection of the creative class to an urbane urban lifestyle. Ley, when studying this class through case studies of Canadian cities, concentrates instead on the diversity of this class, especially the liberal ideas that often find voice in its politics (see Ley’s 1980 article "Liberal Ideology and the Post-Industrial City" which describes then deconstructs the TEAM committee’s strive to make Vancouver a "livable city"). Ley’s work, and that of Rose, Beauregard, Mullins, Moore, and others who have built upon Ley’s theories by arguing that "gentrifiers and their social and cultural characteristics was of crucial importance for an understanding of gentrification," has been criticized by Hamnett, however, as not going far enough, and not incorporating the "supply of dwellings and the role of developers/speculators in the process" (Hamnett 1991, 186, 187).

[edit] Globalization

A concept that has received much consideration is the idea of globalization and the city’s role in this new economic environment, where urban centers are ranked by their ability to function in a climate where national borders are becoming less and less important. Academics have studied these de-industrialized "global cities," trying to both characterize them theoretically and empirically. John Friedman, who laid down a hypothetical framework on which to build a study of global cities, used as one of the components to his seven part theory the emergence of a bifurcated service industry in major cites, which is comprised of "on the one hand, a high percentage of professionals specialized in control functions and, on the other, a vast army of low-skilled workers engaged in … personal services … [that] cater to the privileged classes for those whose sake the world city primarily exists" (1986, 322). That the last three components of his theory deals with the increased immigration to fill this demand, the class and spatial polarization that results from this, and the inability of the global city to deal with these rapidly growing "social costs" is no mistake (1986, 323-328). Friedman places his vision of the global city squarely in a class context, a context that has been expanded on by Sassen and others. This polarization inherent in increasingly global cities can illuminate the theory that concerns itself specifically with the causes of gentrification. Indeed, a 2006 analysis found increased spatial polarization (segregation) by income across U.S. metropolitan areas, with middle-income neighborhoods in decline relative to low- and high-income areas (Booza et al 2006).

Gentrification cannot be separated from the economic climate in which it occurs. The advent of the new economy outlined above has led to substantial growth and centralization of high-level work in producer services: a "new urban economic core of banking and service activities that comes to replace the older, typically manufacturing oriented, core" (Sassen 1995, 65). This new core sees older, middle-class retailers "replaced by upmarket boutiques and restaurants catering to new high-income urban elites" (Sassen 1995, 66).

[edit] Demographic shifts

The emergence of a 'service-sector' class, that is, a group of people—generally between the ages of 25 and 45—with a high disposable income and post-graduate education with professions in fields such as Law, Medicine, Finance, Media and the Arts in the urban core that they want to be close to, is one of the primary tenets of the consumption-side theory of gentrification. This is not to be confused, however, with service jobs such as being a janitor, day-laborer, housekeeper, nanny, or working in a fast food business, which are also technically services, but require few skills and little education. This emergence is partly a manifestation of the shift in much of the Western world from a manufacturing-based economy to a post-industrial, service-based economy.

Demographically speaking, Western cities are seeing a growing percentage of 25–45 year-olds in the inner-city (urban) core. Other demographic shifts are occurring as well; there is a lessening of gendered divisions of labour, and people are waiting longer to get married and have children (c.f., the Double Income No Kids syndrome). Additionally, urban researchers are seeing an increase in the number of single women professionals living alone in gentrified areas.

This also leads to the lack of affordable housing in these areas for residents who are not in a high-income bracket, and leads to several generations of a low-income family living in the same dwelling because youths who would have moved out upon graduating high-school can't afford to live in their own unless they're in the market for luxury condominiums. See the Freeter phenomena.

In the UK, ever-rising house prices have meant that many middle-class people under age 40 either inherit or simply receive a substantial amount of money from a parent – enough to buy a house outright in the sort of area traditionally vulnerable to gentrification. Gentrification, as an aspect of gender studies discourse, has not been studied extensively, but researchers have discovered that women and gay men have had at least some impact on the gentrifying process in older, inner-city neighbourhoods. Moreover, women are seen to be gentrifying in response to different patriarchal structures; they are seen as being potentially forced by oppressive class relations related to their gender into moving into the inner-city, as opposed to deciding on moving there as a result of locational preference. The breakdown of the notion of male as breadwinner/female as domestic, as higher education becomes more accessible to women, has also contributed to the movement of single women into the inner-city.

In London, a large proportion of gentrified housing was originally built for middle class occupants, and if it was ever occupied by working class people, this mainly came about when the middle classes left for more distant suburbs between the two World Wars. In Islington, four story houses are much more common than two storey cottages.

Gentrification usually increases the property value of an area. This is a positive development for city officials (by raising tax revenue, which is often dependent on property values), the middle class, as well as existing resident owner-occupiers. Unfortunately this same rise in property value can be devastating to those in lower income groups, when children of such residents find they can no longer afford to live in certain neighborhoods. As a result, there tend to be very strongly opposed views on gentrification, with some seeing it leading to healthier, more vibrant cities, and others seeing it as destroying poor communities.

[edit] The role of certain social groups

The urban bourgeoisie typically does not invade new neighborhoods in one fell swoop. In many cases, more economically marginal subgroups of "trend-setters"—often referred to in popular literature as "urban pioneers" (Smith 1996, 26) although that term carries with it racist aspersions (Smith 1996, 13)—are the first to arrive in gentrifying areas. Although these groups may not have high incomes, their high educational or occupational status (i.e., high cultural capital) qualify them as marginally bourgeois. In many cases, these individuals are young and live in non-family households, and thus have a higher tolerance for perceived urban ills (such as crime, poor-quality schools, lack of amenities like shops and parks, and the presence of disadvantaged racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic groups) that may dissuade middle-class families.

As the number of "trend-setters" grows, they create amenities valued by the bourgeoisie, particularly service establishments such as new bars, restaurants, and art galleries that pander to the gentrifying group's demographic, residents with a similar outlook and greater amounts of capital may follow. This group, in turn, further adds amenities and investment to the area, increases local property values, and paves the way for more risk-averse investors and residents. The first newcomers, priced out of their newly fashionable neighborhood, move on to adjacent areas, where the process often begins anew. In this theory, the classic sector model of urban residential succession—essentially that neighborhoods "trickle down" from one socioeconomic group to another, with the wealthiest residents moving linearly outward from the Central Business District—works in reverse, but the "invasion-succession" process proceeds in a remarkably similar fashion.

Gentrification does not require these intermediary steps, but such a succession greatly facilitates the process. In other instances, as with the London Docklands and other CBD-adjacent urban renewal projects, or in instances of comprehensive public housing redevelopment (as at Cabrini-Green in Chicago), government and large developers can invade the area with sufficient capital to skip the steps entirely. In still other recent instances, a Community Development Corporation has been so successful at stabilizing an urban neighborhood that it becomes desirable for the middle class; examples include Roxbury, Massachusetts, Near South Side, Chicago and Harlem, New York City.

[edit] Artists, bohemians, hipsters

The method by which an urban "artist colony" is transformed into an affluent neighborhood has been well documented for many years. Artists and subcultural students (more recently nicknamed "hipsters," but also including the hippies of earlier years) often seek out devalorized urban neighborhoods for their low prices and for their sense of authenticity or "grit" (Lloyd, 89). As the bohemian character of the area grows, it appeals "not only to committed participants but also to sporadic consumers" (Lloyd, 104); eventually, those "sporadic" consumers edge out the earlier arrivals. Christopher Mele described the process with hippies in New York City's East Village in the 1960s:

By the early 1960s, the Beats' enclave of Greenwich Village had been... commercialized by middle-class onlookers... Between 1964 and 1968, dozens of specialty shops that catered to the hippies had opened along St. Mark's Place... In addition to students and hippies, the neighborhood's countercultural atmosphere attracted copywriters, editorial workers, fashion designers, and commercial artists... Although the youthful movement criticized middle-class values and lifestyles, its members, nonetheless, were of largely middle-class origin living in one of the poorest working-class districts in the city. (Mele, 159-169)

Through the 1960s and 1970s, lofts in SoHo were converted en masse to house artists, hippies, and others (Zukin 121-3). As those neighborhoods continued to escalate in price and social status, the artists moved on to Park Slope, Brooklyn and Hoboken, New Jersey, and today (and their followers, the hipsters) to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Emerging areas where hipsters are being displaced to run along the BMT Canarsie Line (L) and IND Crosstown Line (G) of the New York City Subway system due in large part due to their proximity to Williamsburg.

Similar examples can be found in many cities around the world with large numbers of jobs in media, fashion, and other creative trades.

  • In San Francisco, during the mid-1960s, the bohemian center of the city shifted from the old Beat enclave of North Beach to the Haight-Ashbury as a response to gentrification. As gentrification progressed in the Upper Haight during the 1970s and 1980s, San Francisco's bohemia again shifted to the Lower Haight, the Mission District, and SoMa. The high cost of living in the city of San Francisco has further pushed many San Francisco artists and students into Oakland and Berkeley.
  • In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, gentrification moved from Los Feliz, adjacent to Hollywood, to Silver Lake and Echo Park, and after 2000 has moved on to Eagle Rock and Highland Park. In West Los Angeles, gentrification in Santa Monica, California has shifted southward into the Venice Beach neighborhood, long famous for its alternative culture and artsand most recenty to Culver City, site of many new art galleries. Long Beach, California is also undergoing many forms of gentrification with Downtown Long Beach, the East Arts Village, the Broadway Corridor, & Belmont Shore taking on new businesses and furthering it's reputation as a vibrant city within California. West Hollywood is an example of 1980s gentrification, in which a heavily gay neighborhood incorporated itself in 1984 and re-branded itself "the artistic city." Silver Lake, which had been gentrifying over the 70s and early 80s, halted or even slid back as West Hollywood became the predominant gay neighborhood; since the mid 90s, however, gentrification in Silver Lake has proceded onward.
  • In Chicago, the 1920s artists' colony in Towertown (on the Near North Side) steadily marched northward in the face of gentrification, first to Old Town in the 1930s and further along the lakefront into Lincoln Park and Lakeview. In the 1980s, artists and musicians began moving to Wicker Park on the near northwest side, and in recent years have spread elsewhere, including Pilsen and Logan Square. This is slightly unusual, in that Lakeview, Wicker Park, and Pilsen are not adjacent to one another, and thus do not follow the usual sector model of residential succession but all are areas close to the center with all of the other criteria, such as transportation and historic architecture, typical of desirable inner town neighborhoods which are increasingly becoming affluent throughout the United States as the housing pattern of choice continues to change.
  • In London, the now extremely upmarket areas of Chelsea and Notting Hill developed in a similar manner during the 1960s and 1980s respectively. More recently, Camden Town, Islington and Hoxton/Shoreditch in the London Borough of Hackney have followed suit.
  • The Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal, formerly a Jewish neighbourhood went bohemian in the 1960s and, after the smoke cleared from referenda for separation from Canada, became a night life district where people lived their idea of bohemia. Since the end of the 1990s, it has started to become gentrified as have other areas of Montreal, such as Notre-Dame-de-Grace.
  • The Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto, home in the 1960s to hippies and other bohemian types, is now a full-fledged chic upper class hangout yuppie neighbourhood whose expensive and uber- cool bars and restaurants regularly attract Hollywood movie stars. Areas of Toronto where the gentrification process is seen to take place in more recent times include Parkdale, an area that is home to a diverse community of immigrants but is now also increasingly becoming popular with artists and bohemian types. This is most evident in the number of art galleries that have cropped up along the far end of Queen Street in the past few years, although the area is still beset by crime and homelessness. Toronto's ever popular alternative and fashionable Queen Street West in general has been increasingly under gentrification pressure, slowly extracting and replacing what had originally made the stylish trendy strip so popular and hip in the first place into a more exclusive, name brand, and high-end version. Another example would be The Junction, formerly a blue collar, industrial area that actually had in place a by-law restricting alcohol sale until 2000. Like the fringes of Parkdale and Liberty Village this area has seen former industrial space converted into loft and studio space.
  • In Philadelphia, the once blue-collar neighborhood of Fishtown is slowly transforming into an artist's enclave, due to spillover from Northern Liberties.
  • In Atlanta changes were seen throughout the 80's and 90's in neighborhoods such as Midtown and Inman Park. These changes have now spread to neighborhoods like Grant Park, East Atlanta, and Cabbagetown.
  • In Birmingham, England, the previously run-down and then lively bohemian area of Moseley has undergone considerable gentrification in recent years. It is now one of the more expensive areas of the city in which to live. The same phenomenon has also been experienced in parts of Bristol and Manchester.

[edit] Gay men

Manuel Castells's seminal work on gay men as "gentrifiers" in San Francisco has revealed a pattern replicated, to some degree, in other North American cities, as "many [gays] were single men, did not have to raise a family (in urban schools of questionable quality), were young, and connected to a relatively prosperous service economy" (Castells, 1983, p. 160). Additionally, gay men tend to choose inner-city neighbourhoods as places to live because of the lower cost of housing in these areas and social acceptance (which are generally found in inner-city cores) that may not be found in more conservative suburbs or small towns.

The PBS documentary Flag Wars [1] outlined the tension between an urban African-American community in the old silk stocking district of Columbus, Ohio and the mainly white gays and lesbians moving in, who were accused of gentrification and racism.

In considering this case or others like it, thinking of gay and black communities as mutually exclusive ignores people who are members of both communities—sometimes born of either homophobic or racist definitions of "community" on both sides of the divide. A "there goes the neighborhood" response to gentrification is often amplified by prejudice against gay and lesbian people. This singles them out as responsible for larger economic trends that actually have little to do with sexual orientation or cultural politics.

Similarly, many gay people are impoverished; when the presence of wealthier gay people raises housing prices, this also creates an often overlooked economic divide within the gay community. Indeed, real estate trends can push out poorer gay people, as in San Francisco's Polk District; radical queer activists saw the value of an impoverished neighborhood as a refuge for the economically, sexually and socially marginalized, while others saw renovations and increased real estate values as signs of improvement in the neighborhood.[2]

But though these kinds of complexities give the lie to the idea of a monolithic gentrifying gay wave, the emergence of gay communities within formerly poor urban enclaves is a phenomenon that has repeated itself many times over. These gay communities are a special case in a discussion of gentrification. Many gay and lesbian people are forced to avoid their towns and neighborhoods of origin because of the need to start a new life and form a new community after coming out. Further, the observation that many gay men are single and childless should be viewed in the light of social pressures and actual social policy (like adoption and marriage restrictions) that intend to keep them that way. So while economics and a desire to make good real estate investments drive some of the association of gay men with urban gentrification, so too do homophobia and social stigma. Hence, a gay neighborhood can often be simultaneously understood as a gentrified area, and as a gay ghetto.

[edit] Attempts to control gentrification

[edit] Community organizing

In many cases, existing residents of gentrifying neighborhoods have organized into grassroots groups to develop political and social strategies to retain affordable housing in their communities. Many such organizations arose in the 1960s, particularly using tactics inspired by Saul Alinsky. Some, like the Young Lords street gang active in Chicago's then-heavily Puerto Rican neighborhod of Lincoln Park, used direct action techniques like sit-ins and occupation of vacant land. In many other neighborhoods, neighborhood institutions have founded community development corporations to give the community an active role in neighborhood development. In many cases, though, even a well-organized community cannot muster enough resources to counter gentrification.

[edit] Inclusionary zoning

Cities have responded to gentrification in different ways. Inclusionary zoning is an increasingly popular method of stemming gentrification, employed by cities, in an attempt to create affordable housing units in urban areas. Through inclusionary zoning, developers are either required or provided with incentives (such as higher build-outs) to develop a certain percentage of affordable housing units. Because inclusionary zoning is such a relatively new concept, there have been few studies regarding its effect on limiting gentrification.

[edit] Community land trusts

Since gentrification is exacerbated by speculation in land prices, removing land from the open market can effectively keep property prices from rising and thereby prevent displacement. The most common formal mechanism for doing so is a community land trust; many inclusionary zoning ordinances are now written to place the "inclusionary" units into a land trust. Many linguistically isolated urban neighborhoods are able to keep out speculators informally, simply by not advertising available properties on the open (primary language) market and instead trading properties only by word of mouth.[citation needed]

[edit] Rent control

In response to gentrification pressure, some cities pass rent control ordinances. While rent control allows existing tenants to remain, it doesn't directly affect the overall increase in underlying property prices. For example, the formerly downscale southwestern section of Santa Monica, California and the eastern section of West Hollywood, California became more gentrified despite rent control. However, this is partly due to statewide changes to the law that eventually forbade extending rent control prices from one tenancy to the subsequent tenancy. Since many other forms of rent control also allow landlords to set higher prices for newer residents while forcing them to keep prices low for long-time residents, this may have the unintended consequence of actually providing a policy incentive for gentrification, and for landlords to rent to residents they hope will leave sooner. Another unintended consequence is landlord harassment, where the owner or manager of a property makes living conditions uncomfortable for long-term residents in the hope that they will vacate voluntarily, thus avoiding costly legal expenses. On the other hand, without rent control, a neighborhood undergoing gentrification might change even more rapidly because landlords could quickly raise rents on long-time residents and thereby rapidly displace them from the neighborhood. Some evidence exists[citation needed] to demonstrate that the 1994 abolition of rent control in Boston, Massachusetts and some surrounding suburbs (via statewide ballot) sped up gentrification in that area, although strong economic growth in the following years is probably a large factor.

[edit] Attempts to amplify gentrification

Sharon Zukin refers to a somewhat contradictory "Artistic Mode of Production" wherein patrician capital seeks to revalorize (that is, gentrify) urban space through the recruitment and retention of artists; that is, by subtle and overt means of encouraging artists to occupy, say, former industrial facilities (1989, 176). This has been taken by some cities as advice. In UK cities like Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Liverpool, the actions of regional development agencies, in tandem with private speculators, have attempted to artificially stimulate the process of gentrification. Property developers have also noticed that taking a building they eventually wish to re-develop and offering it cheaply to artists for a few years can impart a 'hip' feel to the surrounding area.

In the US, municipal governments tend to use tax incentives such as "tax increment financing" (TIF), or, such as in the "Arts Move" program of Chattanooga, Tennessee, municipal governments will partner with non-profit organizations and Public Private Partnerships to offer to artists subsidized home loans at a discounted interest rate if they move into gentrifying neighborhoods.[3] Under a TIF program, economic activity in a target blighted area will be jump started with government spending, usually on physical infrastructure. Property values, and therefore property tax revenues, are then expected to rise. Under TIF's, all increased tax revenues, for a set number of years, go to the TIF administration entity, and can only be spent on additional improvements within the TIF district. Often TIF funds will be provided as direct subsidies to private sector developers. Infrastructure improvements, subsidies, and rising property values all combine to encourage additional private sector investment.

[edit] Case Studies of gentrification

[edit] Darlen Street, Philadelphia

Though the process of gentrification can be slow, and depressing for its original residents, it is a fascinating chain of events. There are several case studies done on areas undergoing gentrification. Gentrification Amid Urban Decline, by Michael Lang, contains a story about Darlen Street. This case study is done to show the process and impacts of gentrification.

Darlen Street is a small alley street in Bella Vista, a highly populated neighborhood in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Most of the houses on the street date back to 1885, and were built for artisans, or craftsmen, that lived in the area. Darlen Street was considered a “back street” because it did not (and still does not) connect to any main streets in the city, and was not even paved for most of its existence.

In its early days, Darlen Street housed only Italian families. After World War II however, there was talk of a crosstown expressway and the Italian families moved out. These low-rent homes then became inhabited by poor African American families. By the early 1970s, Darlen Street was at its lowest point, and the houses were worth hardly anything. Many of the houses were abandoned because of broken heaters and caved in roofs (Lang 17). The houses on Darlen Street were very small – about 15 feet wide and 15 feet deep. Each home was three stories tall, with one room on each floor. The largest yard is 8 feet deep. Even with its decay, Darlen Street held a unique charm with European echoes. The houses all had some different features to give the street more character. The street was also safe for children to play on, since there were no passing cars. The nearness of all the homes made for a potentially close-knit atmosphere. Darlen Street was located just south of the center of the city, giving it great location; it was also inexpensive and would not have been hard to renovate.

Thus, the first home was rehabilitated in 1977; it was a corner home and was sold to a school teacher. He completely redid the home, and moved in. In the next few years, most white middle-class men began to move into the abandoned houses. In 1979, the first displacement occurred. Two years later, five of seven families were displaced. The two remaining families rented homes, and expected to be displaced soon.

Gentrification Amid Urban Decline went in to great detail about Darlen Street, but it was published in 1982, so that is where Darlen Street’s story ends (Lang 17-18). Michael Lang gives statistics to show his final findings on Darlen Street: in five years, the street changed from seven black households and one white household to two black households and eleven white households. The average rent rose 587% – from $85 to $500 a month. Homes previously sold for $5,000 were sold in 1981 for $35,000. Of the five black households displaced, Lang informs his readers that three families found better houses within two blocks, one family left the state, and one family moved five blocks away into a public housing project.

The benefits of the gentrification of Darlen Street include increased tax flow and improved housing. The drawbacks of gentrification were the worry of the displacees (Lang 18-19).

[edit] Over the Rhine, Cincinnati

A place that has gone through gentrification, and is going through it again, is a community just north of Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Cincinnati has a strong German heritage, and, like Darlen Street in Philadelphia, its homes and businesses show a strong European influence. Over the Rhine is a community north of Downtown Cincinnati. In the 1800s, only German families populated the area (“Over-the-Rhine”). In the following few decades, however, most of those German families became financially able to move to northern Cincinnati and the surrounding suburbs, so they did. Working class people from southeastern areas of the United States began to migrate to Cincinnati, where there were industrial jobs available. By the early 1900s, the working class, which mostly consisted of African Americans, were the majority population in Over the Rhine (“Over-the-Rhine”). Throughout the century, the population declined from over 40,000 in 1900 to fewer than 8,000 people in 2000 (“Over-the-Rhine”). In 2001, there were outbursts of racial cries, known as the “Cincinnati Race Riots” after a young African American was shot by a city policeman. The riots destroyed many homes, businesses, and families, and completely halted redevelopment in the already deteriorating area. It took five years for gentrification to take its second swing around Over the Rhine. In early 2006, much to the surprise of Cincinnati residents, a 130-year-old building had began its renovation into six condominiums (Maag). Construction and development companies saw opportunity when almost half of Over the Rhine’s houses were vacant. One Cincinnati developer, Bill Baum, said the construction noise is “music to his ears” in an article in the New York Times in November (Maag). Baum thought nothing would ever happen in Over the Rhine, at least during his lifetime (Maag). The new condominiums are located on Vine Street, which runs through the middle of Over the Rhine (and was in the center of the riots years earlier). Over the Rhine has great qualities: it is located just five minutes from downtown, it has some specialty shopping and restaurants, and its houses’ structures are beautiful (“Over-the-Rhine”). Still, Over the Rhine is a dangerous place to live. Developers are hoping that their renovations will cause crime rates in Over the Rhine to subside. In 1990, the median income of the residents was $5,000 (Maag). Now, in 2006, renovated condominiums are selling for over $100,000 and most apartments are over $1,000 a month in rent (“Over-the-Rhine Directory”). It is obvious that Cincinnati is trying to rid Over the Rhine of its former, low-income residents with more prominent ones who will spend more money in the area. The renovations in Over the Rhine are meant to keep the community alive, and help the economy grow.

[edit] References

  1. ^ http://m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?va=gentrification
  2. ^ http://www.answers.com/gentrification&r=67
  3. ^ http://www.fanniemaefoundation.org/programs/hff/v2i1-reinvestment.shtml
  4. ^ http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/11/AR2005111100820.html?nav=rss_opinion/columns

[edit] Sources

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[edit] See also

[edit] External links