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Gentrification! Relax it is not a dirty word. However, it is a word that provokes anxiety and uncertainty. To some, gentrification is an interconnected web of violent acts. It is a process that needs to be fought against to persevere the colorful background and values in neighborhoods. These people often believe by letting the interest of the wealthy control the landscape their community will be displaced. While others believe, gentrification is the mechanism by which we make cities better, through the renewal of businesses and housing in a neighborhood.
To them gentrification is merely a process of rival of the economy or simply building better places to get more money flowing throughout the neighborhood. Whether you like or dislike gentrification, it a driving force that impact lives every day. However, most people do not know what it means.
According to Vox, gentrification refer to a “process where higher income people and outlets that cater to them move into a neighborhood previously dominated by low-income households, artsy Bohemian types, immigrants, people of color, or some combination of the above.
” In simpler terms, people from higher income communities come to lower income communities and bring business there, which usually leads to the displacement of the working class. Which raises the question, to what extent does gentrification affect the working class? The overall impact of gentrification on the working class is negative due to rising cost of housing, the increase of unemployment and the decrease of diversity. However, the gentrification of the neighborhoods creates an upscale look for the neighborhoods, increases public safety and diversifies businesses.
Gentrification is thought of as a relatively new term, however it is about fifty-four years old. It was coined by Ruth Glass in 1964, originally used to describe an organic population shift in London’s inner neighborhood. Since then gentrification has come to encapsulate culture trends, economic cycles and discrete public policies. A decade later, Robert Caro publishes The Power Broker, in response to Robert Moses efforts to destroy the homes in the Lower East side in Manhattan. In 1978, Federal historic preservation tax credit is passed allowing develops to apply for a tax credit equal to ten percent of the cost of a building’s rehab, which attracted develops to renovate old industrial buildings. In 1984, Pittsburgh cultural trust was established, which created a cultural district and prompts hundreds of other cities stops create their own cultural district, offering tax credit and other incentives to spur development. In 1985, California passes the Ellis Act, which provides landlords a way of changing their rent-controlled apartments to market rate. Today, critics cite the act as a driving force behind mass evictions in gentrifying San Francisco. In1993, New York State legislators pass into law several loopholes, including one that allows NYC landlords to flip rent-stabilized apartments into market-rate apartments by gradually increasing the rent each time a tenant moves out until the rent hits a certain threshold.
In 2013, Philadelphia launches the Longtime Owner Occupants Program (LOOP), a real-estate tax break for longtime residents to protect them from rising property taxes. The policy is closely watched as a replicable remedy for gentrifying cities trying to reduce displacement of working- and lower-middle-class residents. In 2017, a tax reform bill, Congress created the Opportunity Zones tax incentive for investors. Billions of dollars worth of investment in low-income areas are already being planned under the new policy, which has no annual statutory limit, unlike the tax credit programs. Transparency and accountability for benefits to low-income communities are a major concern.
The Broken window theory was created by James Q. Wilson and George Kelling in 1982. It was used as a metaphor for disorder in a neighborhood. The theory links disorder in a community to a subsequent occurrence of serious crimes in that same neighborhood. Overtime the Broken Window theory was transformed into broken window policies, specifically in policing. The “most notable application of the theory was in New York City under the direction of Police Commissioner William Bratton.” How did Bratton translate theory into policies? He “introduced his broken windows-based “quality of life initiative.” Which cracked down “on panhandling, disorderly behavior, public drinking, street prostitution, and unsolicited windshield washing or other such attempts to obtain cash from drivers stopped in traffic.” Basically, Bratton started with smaller crimes to prevent bigger crimes from happening. And it worked, at his resignation, crime in New York city was down forty percent. There is no doubt that Broken Window policies brought about a certain level of safety in a neighborhood, but at what cost?
Applying Broken Window policies to clean up a neighborhood is a direct result of gentrification, which “often leaves out a critical side effect that disproportionately affects communities of color: criminalization.” The long-term residents of the now gentrified neighborhoods are targeted by police because of demographical shifts, “activity that was previously considered normal becomes suspicious, and newcomers—many of whom are white—are more inclined to get law enforcement involved. Loitering, people hanging out in the street, and noise violations often get reported, especially in racially diverse neighborhoods.” The long term residents are now tangled up in the quality of life crimes and are criminized against. Broken Window polices did clean up the streets of New York, but it also discriminated against people who do not seem to be in place I gentrified neighbourhoods.
The Ellis Act was passed in 1985 by the California’s state legislature. It states that no local government can force an owner of a rental property to continue to offer their housing for rent. The act allows the local government to “impose a variety of requirements on rental property owners who desire to exit the rental market.” For example, rental property owners may have to provide relocation assistance to displaced tenants, specific notice periods and deed restrictions on future use of the property. However, the Ellis Act is often used as a loophole so that landlords have the unconditional right to evict their tenants if they declare they are going out of business. If a landlord chooses to use an Ellis eviction, “the landlord must remove all of the units in the building from the rental market, i.e., the landlord must evict all the tenants and cannot single out one tenant) and/or remove just one unit out of several from the rental market.” The Ellis Act is used as a just act of eviction.
After the tenants have moved out, most often the buildings are converted to condos or group-owned tenancy-in-common flats. When “a building becomes a condo, it is exempt from Rent Control, regardless of the age of the building, and even if a unit owner subsequently rents to a long-term tenant.” There is no limit of times a building can go out of business, thus owners use the Ellis Act to avoid renting to long term tenants, which is connected to the housing crisis in big cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles. For example, in Los Angeles, where the number of rent controlled apartments have been drastically decreasing due to the loophole in the Ellis Act. Landlords are evicting their tenants and replacing the housing with condos in “mostly black and Latino communities, where the average renter was already shelling out a whopping 60 percent of his or her income to stay sheltered” the housing crisis is at an all-time high due to the disappearance of thousands of rent control housing, leaving the working class fighting for a roof over their heads.
The first Starbucks was open at the Pike Place Market in Seattle on the 31st of March 1971. Today, Starbucks is the largest coffee house chain in the world with over 25,000 outlets worldwide.
In 2003 the term Super Gentrification was coined by Loretta Lees in a study of Brooklyn Heights, where she defines the term as “intensified regentrification in a few select areas of global cities such as London and New York City that have become the focus of intense investment and conspicuous consumption by a new generation of super rich financiers.” In other words, super gentrification refers to the transformation of a neighborhood that has already been gentrified into a more exclusive and expensive neighborhood. An example of this intensified regentrification is Brooklyn Heights. In 1962 a small four-story brown stone in the Heights was sold for about $28,000, in the 1990s that very same house was valued at $649,000. How is that possible? The neighborhood was first developed in the 1800s by wealthy business, shipping and tradespeople as Manhattan’s first commuter suburb. It was one of the wealthy cities in the country, used as an escape from the city life for wealthy people who worked in Manhattan.
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