I am angry and kind of at a lost for words… but this is a blog so I am seeking to find them. Let me start here Gentrification is not equal to nor is it the same as Community Revitalization…
One of my favorite books is “1984” by George Orwell. In it the main character explains the process by which people can be controlled simply by changing their vocabulary. Subtly, changing the words definition by simply shifting the connotation until people do not even remember its original use. In the book, the Ministry of Love is the place that individuals are tortured but since the word love was removed from the people’s vocabulary this did not land on them as being ironic. We are living in the times of Big Brother and one of the many words that has been redefined is Gentrification.
It is not simply revitalizing blighted neighborhoods. No, it the systematic displacement and removal of the unwanted/undesirables for the most affluent. Gentrification CANNOT happen without government involvement. Gentrification involves manipulation, lies, socially irresponsible behavior; and most of all, it removes from people’s choice. We pledge allegiance to a flag and end with “liberty and justice for all”. If my government officials are working with others who have an image of what they want my community to be and are not including me in the conversation… how is that justice for me? If my elected officials, along with their funders, have implemented policies which degrade my neighborhood, how is that liberty for me?
Please do not fool yourself into thinking because you are educated or you are more put together than your neighbor that you will never be displaced. This is America. Much of our middle class are the working class though some of our working class are also poor. The word gentrification came from “landed gentry, where generally wealthy landowners who supported themselves with the rent of their tenants and cuts of their tenant farmers’ earnings. The gentry were also expected to govern over their land, acting as local magistrates and general caretakers of their tenants.”
Ok, you own your home but their are are ways of getting you out in order to make room for the wealthy. Another way of getting you out is by changing your neighborhood in such ways that you no longer want to live there. Sure they could have revitalized your neighborhood without degrading it first…but where’s the money in that?
How about this… let’s say you are making $60,000 a year. In Philadelphia, probably $24,000 of that is likely going to taxes in some form or another. Leaving you with $36,000. If 1/3 of that is meant to go to housing you can only spend $1000 a month. Well, in the new gentrified Philly, you best already own your home outright without a mortgage. Because the price of homes soon will be $1000 or more a month, with all the costs. It’s worse if you are a tenant, you can barely find a 1 bedroom now for less than $1000 a month. According to Pew a middle-class income is between $40,500 and $105,000. Guess what friends… the new definition of gentrification is “the process of renovating and improving a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste.” My dear middle class they have bamboozled you to support what you will not be able to afford.
My apologies. This is not the normal tone of my blog but I just had to say… Gentrification is not Community Revitalization. Gentrification is not inclusive. Gentrification is not friendly. Gentrification is not democracy. Gentrification is a natural by-product of an aristocracy where land is the greatest currency.