17 7 / 2012
"This feeling of being “pushed out” of the city usually manifests itself in the controversial term, “gentrification.” But it’s hard for me to worry about gentrification when you can literally buy a home for $10,000. We have a long, long, long, long, long way to go before the poor are pushed out of the city limits by rising prices. Now will they be displaced from one neighborhood and into another? Yes. I realize that this sucks. And yes, I realize that I have no idea how much it sucks to be pushed to move out of your home by economic forces. But remember, you can buy a home for $5,000-$10,000. You might have to move out of one neighborhood, but you’ll get to move to another one not far away. And still well within the city limits. And, in fact, Detroit is 140 square miles. 90 percent of it will not be affected by gentrification for 10-20 years, even if we’re being optimistic."
Reading this article was really really difficult. The entire premise of it is based on the idea that “gentrification” is about *feelings* and “misunderstandings” rather than very real resource hoarding and withdrawals.
These paragraphs are probably the most problematic point in a really problematic article—the idea that gentrification isn’t *that* bad because folks who are ‘shoved out’ can just buy another house!
I’m going to leave the most obvious point alone—that to many many people, even a house that is “only” $5000-10,000 is often prohibitively expensive (which is why so many people are renting even when houses are “only” that much), and I’m going to instead focus on the point this article begins with—the story about how exciting it is to see people making over $100,000 a year organizing community potlucks and get togethers.
It takes a stable strong community for community building projects of any sort to happen. Parents don’t generally leave their children with some total stranger down the street who just moved in two weeks ago—and conversely, what are parents supposed to do when the person they’ve trusted enough to leave their child with leaves after three months because they can’t afford their house payment any longer?
Why is it ok to ask the people who need community the most and who use community building as a way to address actual problems in their communities (vandalism, youth violence, schools shutting down, etc) to uproot (that is: destroy) their community integrity to make Detroit “nicer” for people who, through tax breaks, investments, incentives, city policies, and oh, those nice hundred thousand dollar paychecks, can make Detroit “nicer” all by themselves?
The casual treatment by the OP of poor people’s need for stable dedicated community is astonishing, but sadly, not uncommon. As a good friend and local activist pointed out, it’s just taken for granted in ALL areas of heavy gentrification that poor people have nothing of value to offer a city—that they don’t have community driven agendas that actively make those cities “nicer.”
Gentrification is not about “feelings” or “not liking change”—it’s about an actual competition for resources. Lifetime Detroiters are not suspicious of “the suits” (to draw on OP’s example) because “the suits” were too arrogant or blew smoke from over priced cigars in their faces.
It is because the resources different neighborhoods need to survive as those thriving communities that the OP loves so much have been literally taken from them and given to people making a hundred thousand a year. This *causes* bad blood—but the bad blood is not the problem. The taking the resources is. The casual indifference of the integrity and value of poor communities is. Safe, well resourced, stable communities is a human right *even for poor people* .
Not something to be sold to the highest bidder.
Demonstrate a willingness to participate in the city’s improvement rather than fight it at every turn. You know what’s been great? Seeing community involvement at Detroit Works. It shows that you genuinely care and are more concerned with finding solutions that soothing egos. Let’s put problem-solving over pride… something Detroit (and Detroiters) are not always known for doing.
Is just absolutely stunning to me. This person is talking about the same people who are actively organizing against school closures, heavy industry pollution, and home foreclosures among other massive problems, and who are organizing to create new media economies, youth led movements, food structures that are grounded in justice, health systems that are affordable for poor people…and so so so many other things.
It’s absolutely a sign of the OP’s ignorance that he doesn’t know these things. That he doesn’t know how much of these actions are grounded in the communities that he’s so casual about uprooting.
Clearly OP and similar folks have never:
1. Tried to live without a car as the only means of transport and how much of life depends on being in the magic triangle of commuting that gives you groceries, work, and access to your kids’ schools/daycare.
2. Tried to get an apartment when you don’t have good credit
3. Had to have family, friends, or neighbors live close by in order to help take care of children, sick, or elderly family
Beyond all that, the housing discrimination. Loan discrimination. This is true both in the downward spiral of Black owned businesses and the ways in which they do not recover from these uprooting.
But let’s also talk about policing. How gentrification doesn’t involve making the neighborhood safer - it involves “increased police presence” which always translates to harassing the people who have lived there for decades in favor of the people who are suddenly moving.
Let’s talk about how cities only redevelop WHEN the plan is to move out the original folks - all the taxes these people paid didn’t go into their communities- it was shunted elsewhere to redevelop some OTHER part of the city - now that the land is cheap enough push these folks out so they can do the same thing again.
As someone who had to leave the city I loved and called a home (Brooklyn, NY) due to price gouging and gentrification, I have to say that OP has absolutely no fucking clue what it is like to be put in that kind of situation. I hope they never do, frankly.
I had to give up everything I knew - my friends, my father, and my home - because we just couldn’t keep up with increasing rents and how rapidly the neighborhoods (Park Slope, especially) were/are changing to accommodate all of the out-of-towners coming in.
And no, in certain cities (Brooklyn, for example), sorry - you can’t buy a home for that amount of money. What do you do when you’re a local and you can’t even afford the $1,200 rent for a basic studio/ one bedroom apartment?
I know you can make the argument that one can just choose to live the city, that NYC is expensive anyway, etc etc. Doesn’t matter. It was still affordable to live where I lived - Park Slope and Sunset Park - because it was a locals only/ ‘my family has lived here for generations’ kind of deal. It’s my fucking home. I shouldn’t have had to have left because of this bullshit. But I had to.
‘We have a long way to go’, my ass. It’s been happening for decades.
I’m not going to put words in the mouth of smelltheashes—but i just wanted to point back to the OP and how he says “it sucks” and makes the injustice of gentrification about “feelings”—and i just want to say that I know several people who have been or are getting priced out of midtown and/or got foreclosed on due to predatory lending—and what they talk about is not “feelings”—but *trauma*. “being nicer” to people you are actively traumatizing—a kinder and gentler trauma experience—is just so unbelievably offensive. i can not express how angry the OP makes me.
03 6 / 2012
So I’m at a small restaurant spot in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles just several blocks from the detention center on Alameda, just a couple blocks from Skid Row, and very close to Boyle Heights where poverty remains the norm.
Urth Cafe is full of upwardly mobile and professional folks who (coincidentally) are Asian and White American. The place is just 2 blocks away from Alameda where homeless folks walk along and find their next refuge. Urth Cafe is up against some lofts where the rent is indeed expensive. Now, my problem isn’t with people being successful and enjoying a $15 panini.
My questions arise from as to why the clientelé and demographics of the customers are the OPPOSITE of who the workers are. The workers are mostly brown skinned Latin@s and Black Americans. There seems to be an Asian manager and one white worker. The arrive in their new hatchbacks and mini-coopers. The police regularly visit for their discounted food.
Now the rant - this is what I get mad at people who earn money and run away into an urban spot and think they’re somehow “trendsetting” or “breaking new barriers”. Most of these folks are probably liberals - but why do they love to see LAPD arrive and stay for coffee. Because they want to be protected, because they know deep down inside unless a Latina/o or Black person is not wearing an apron and serving them their lattè - they look at that person of color as threatening or “other” person who’s here.
Yeah there are some Black folks and Latina/os here, but they prob got money and if they don’t then their probably not coming here on a weekly basis. I just hate how these so called “liberal” say they are apart of the 99%, say they want equality, but if you don’t look like you got money or act like the 1% with a 99% front, THEN YOU’RE TREATED LIKE AN OUTSIDER.
This is why I really believe that mainstream Democrats and “liberals” are just like Malcolm X talked about. People who are progressives on paper, but when it comes down to sharing the land/wealth/lending out a hand - “oh i don’t believe in that” - fuck liberals.