- “The process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in a deteriorating area (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle-class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.” (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
Pros of Gentrification
- Reduces crime
- New investment opportunities
- Increased economic activity
- According to Philadelphia Study of Gentrification
- Can create benefits for low income residents
- Low income neighborhoods that do not gentrify often fall further into poverty
- Residents displaced by gentrification often do not move to areas measurably worse than the area they were living in
“The average low income neighborhood that didn’t gentrify between 2000 and 2012 lost 8 percent of its population, and saw a decline in average incomes of 21 percent”
- (Brummet & Reid, “The Effects of Gentrification on the Well-Being and Opportunity of Original Resident Adults and Children”)
Cons of Gentrification
- Long term residents are not often able to reap the benefits
- Rising rent prices
- Homes are sold
- Small businesses close
- Can take away the culture of a neighborhood
- Can lead to higher levels of community conflict
- Developers often do not build houses with low-income families in mind
“Common in gentrification efforts is the urban planning shift from “fostering community formation” to “investing the city with money and consumption-oriented spaces that resemble suburban shopping malls that exclude low-income and people of color.”
- (Chong, “Examining the Negative Impacts of Gentrification”)
Gentrification in Miami
Traditional Architecture of The West Grove
Gentrification in this Area
- Unfortunately due to COVID-19, I was unable to go out and take photos of the gentrified areas, so here are some photographs from online.
My Changemaker – Ruth Ewing (Community Activist)
Brooke: What compelled you to start working towards fighting gentrification?
Ruth: The West Grove was originally a settlement of Bahamians. They were the first Black families and Black people that settled in a part of Miami called Coconut Grove. They came here to help as frontiersmen, because being from the Bahamas, they were familiar with working with coral rock and growing food in tropical climates. They were invited here initially by the Peacock family to help the family with developing this land, as well as with their expertise as craftsmen. My family came from the Bahamas, as well as Jamaica. For me, West Grove is part of my family’s heritage. When you have something you try and keep it up for your family, and especially for your kids. You try and preserve it, and make it something that is worthy of your family and your kids to be proud of and to inherit. It’s just like with money. You want to invest your money so that your money can grow. You invest your energy into a community so that the people can grow.
Brooke: What effects has gentrification had on this community, and what can be done to fix this issue?
Ruth: Gentrification actually has a bad connotation. It is supposed to mean the development of an area, but it doesn’t necessarily have to mean the removal of a group of people from an area. One of the things that is so disrespectful to a group of people’s heritage, is to basically wipe them from an area in order to make the area what you want it to be, as opposed to helping the people to appreciate and help their community to grow. Some of the work that I do is in youth programming at one of the parks in the West Grove. My process is slow, as far as teaching the next generation how to have civic awareness and participate in the growing of their community. It’s very disheartening when kids are displaced from a community, because you’ve displaced them solely because you want to take the land that they live on. When you remove children from their homes, those kids no longer learn about their community, and are no longer able to have pride in it, and grow up in it. It’s development, but it’s development which removes people who would best benefit from that development. That’s what has been happening with gentrification in this area. I don’t think it’s healthy to remove a people solely for development, or the glamorization of an area, as opposed to preserving, repairing, and hardening a community.
Brooke: How has working for this issue changed you as a person, and what have you learned from this experience?
Ruth: I guess it’s just increased my resolve in regards to the original reason why I started. I believe I’d be so bold as to say that I’ve gained some wisdom in doing this, and working with people. You have to stand up and be willing to use your voice, not be afraid of your power, and use your platform to make sure that people are aware of what things are going on. You have to be willing to speak up, and be firm in your convictions, and realize that you are justified in your position, and people don’t necessarily have the ability to change that. Your point of view is valid, and you have the ability to stand up for what you believe is right in your community, and create change, not just for your own benefit, but the benefit of the community as a whole. I think I’ve learned that. Also, learning to work with people to bring together different strengths and voices. Everyone brings their own life experiences to a project, and together all of us are able to work together in order to accomplish a common goal. One of the analogies I give about working with people and collaborating in these efforts is, it’s like a quilt. You can have a patchwork quilt where you arrange all these different patterns and all these different colors together and make a story out of the quilt. You can make it be so much more than just a quilt. Sure it can be a covering, but it can also be a piece of artwork, and it can be more powerful together.
Examples of Beneficial Gentrification
Unfortunately, I cannot find many other examples, besides this photo I took, that depict beneficial gentrification in the West Grove. Most of the gentrification that is currently taking place resembles the photos of the multimillion dollar homes shown earlier in this presentation.
- Begin having more developers create affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods
- If low-income residents are able to stay in gentrifying neighborhoods and not become displaced, they may be able to benefit from the economic growth that accompanies gentrification, rather than be harmed by it.
- Have developers create developments that match the culture of an area, and surrounding buildings.
- Gentrification should not mean the removal of a culture.
- Buildings can be created that are consistent with the culture of an area, and do not completely erase the area’s heritage.
If there’s gentrification occurring in your neighborhood, feel free to leave a comment down below about the effects it’s having, and how leaders in your community are addressing it!