The Selectivity of Community Change

by Caitlin Dilamani

Unfortunately, cities are so divided that the benefits of community change have to be geared towards certain people while putting others at a disadvantage by exploiting and marginalizing them.  Although a community organization in the low-income Roxbury and Dorchester neighborhoods of Boston took stock of its 30-year campaign to create affordable housing and revitalize the area according to James Meehan by building new homes and rehabilitating others, the opposite seems to be true for black Harlem, a perfectly comfortable and pleasant neighborhood for low-income residents that had to be converted to a place of obstruction by increasing housing for the wealthier white people and driving out the blacks due to increased rents.  Since remediation policies aren’t always effective, the contributions of individuals should not be overlooked.  While gentrification may be viewed as revitalization, or the increase in jobs, resources, and infrastructure improvements to benefit low-income residents, not everyone could still afford to stay in those neighborhoods anymore, and the separation of low-income families from their communities can result in higher transportation costs, the loss of jobs and income, and a decline in school performance for children.  This phenomenon can also leave people emotionally scarred, as it affected the Southside Latino community in Brooklyn with the loss of empowerment they felt when families had to go separate ways because of gentrification.  Instead of government intervention to keep minorities in their homes and schools, there are more destructive zoning policies with fake incentives that worsen gentrification, such as mayor Bill de Blasio’s pushing for private development with the optimism that tax revenues will allow for a few affordable apartments here and there.  At least there are some organizations, such as the community land trust, that have gradually evolved to address the problems of various social interests at the micro level of society by holding land for public use which gives a little hope for efforts at improvement, but the consideration of these institutions to be growing and crystalizing under historical change could sometimes be a myth without the knowledge of how and by whom they were promoted.

Assignment 4-8

3 Comments

  1. I completely agree with your analysis of the changing housing market, but I think it runs even deeper than economics, education and transportation. Gentrification is a process which not only takes away peoples homes, but also strips their neighborhood of its culture and spirit. Harlem was once known for its authentic heritage and strong sense of community, but these days, all the monuments and churches and lounges that had brought the people together have decimated to cater to a wholly new demographic- the wealthy white. In this way places like Harlem are facing the most difficult issue of all, the loss of identity. All the black families who grew up in Harlem now look at an entirely ‘re-vitalized’ and commercialized version of their once beloved hometown.

  2. Gentrification was never an issue about race or ethnicity but still holds some link to it. The area of Harlem has been undergoing gentrification and the poor, mostly made up of African-Americans, are subject to being driven from their homes as the price of rent increases. “While gentrification may be viewed as revitalization, or the increase in jobs, resources, and infrastructure improvements to benefit low-income residents, not everyone could still afford to stay in those neighborhoods anymore…” Yes, we can also say that the culture is lost in the gentrified area because most of the people living there have built a connection through small family businesses and jobs. But as more wealthier people come in, the higher demand for better services and more expensive rent. Not everyone can afford to live the same way they’ve had to before.

    I think the only reason gentrification is linked to race, in the case for Black Harlem, is because of the social disparities. Certain marginalized groups are more likely to be affected by gentrification.

  3. I agree with your analysis how cities are divided that the benefits of community change have to be geared towards certain people. It is also true that due to this divided cities some other people are disadvantage by exploiting and marginalizing them. In the article by adams, Micheal Henry. “The end of Black Harlem”. But among the black and working-class residents of Harlem, who have withstood red-lining and neglect, it might as well be Fortnum and Mason. “To us, our Harlem is being remade, upgraded and transformed, just for them, for wealthier white people.” However i also agree with yael’s comment, house marketing is definitely affecting more than economics, education and transportation but their neighborhood of its culture and spirit. I even see the racism where Today the pace of change is bracing, as is the insolence of the newcomers. A local real-estate speculator who specializes in flipping buildings in the shrinking Little Senegal section of Harlem told me that new tenants complained, “We’re not paying that much money to have black people living in our building!” so now black families who grew up in harlem are not only facing the racism but watching this ‘re- vitalized’ version of their own home .

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