Gentrification is the situation whereby poor and low income people are forced to move out of their neighborhoods due to an exponentially increased value which happens after renovations by wealthier people in the society. This displacement and the overall effect of the low income dwellers being detached from their homes has led to increased debates and controversies over the legality of the exercise. Here, the works of two authors: Danyahel Norris and Petr Byrnes, who have both written and expressed their views on this controversial topics, are analysed, compared and contrasted in a bid to bring more clarity to this matter. Although both have agreeing factors that demonstrate the negative effects of gentrification, the differences amongst the scholars also supports their justification for their views on gentrification.
The South Bronx has historic ties to the minorities that were born and raised there. It is a place that had a history of poverty, arson and crime. It was also associated with breakdancing and it is said to be the motherland of hip-hop. But with new openings of cafes and coffee shops, SoBro will be the new name to the next generation, thus possibly phasing out a past which once put South Bronx on the map, through the process of gentrification. This urban revitalization is said to improve impoverished neighborhoods making it more appealing- but at what cost and for whom? Minorities are the ones being pushed out of the neighborhoods because of the fast paced redevelopments they can't keep up with. However, there are mixed views on the gentrifying of minority neighborhoods. Although both have agreeing factors that demonstrate the negative effects of gentrification, the differences amongst the scholars also supports their justification for their views on gentrification.
Gentrification has been going on for many years. It is not the new trend, but has been an issue in other neighborhoods other than blacks. It occurred also in white neighborhoods. When blacks wanted better living conditions for themselves and families, they would often move into the suburbs of the white affluent communities. This comes out clearly in both articles. In Byrnes article, he writes of Harlem once having German and Jewish settlers and it was around the 1920s when an influx of blacks moved from the South to the North and settled in Harlem. And in the article by Norris, Norris displayed, also, the movement of blacks into a Jewish neighborhood because of a historically black college Texas Southern University, being established there. They didn't move to those neighborhoods with the intent to displace or replace its residents, but moved there with the intention of a better life for their families. Both instances caused whites to move hence the term "white flight". However, where they differ is in when affluent whites move into minority neighborhoods.
In relation to this movement by the whites into a homeland of the blacks, a sharp difference in opinion is seen between the two authors. Byrnes believes whites moving into the neighborhoods could possibly be more attractive because of its diverse population, but on the other hand, Norris, believes that with its diverse population, comes an increase in amenities that serve only those with higher incomes leaving minorities with low income to not afford the same luxuries as their affluent neighbors.
Both do agree on the government playing a major role in minority neighborhoods being gentrified. Norris revealed that Chapter 312, of the Texas Tax code, allows tax abatements that can have positive influences. If the Chapter 312 is followed to the later for improving the current neighborhoods, gentrification could decrease, allowing the current residents to remain in their neighborhood where they have families, friends and memories. Byrnes also believed if the government provided more secured affordable housing, gentrification wouldn't be looked at badly.
Lastly, Byrnes agrees that when an underdeveloped area becomes revitalized ,displacement can occur in which a landlord would refurbish their current apartments which leads to rising rents leaving current tenants unable to afford the increase thus forcing them to leave. Norris believes gentrification can also occur through eminent domain- the government allowing developers to take private property and use it for public purposes forcing owners to move or face becoming homeless. According to Byrnes, the poor welcome gentrification and will mostly likely stay in that neighborhood because of improved housing and neighborhood condition whereas Norris states that if community development organizations work together with neighborhood groups and comes up with a fair plan, it will benefit the current residents because it helps educate them on keeping the community together.
Gentrification can possibly have its perks and downfalls. But it is all at the expense of the minorities. Byrnes view on gentrification is that of not seeing anything wrong with it and believes it has gotten a lot of slack from its impact. Maybe it's because he is a "gentrifier" himself as he puts it. Norris educates one on gentrification, what a community can do to protect themselves and be aware of if they want to combat gentrification but also help improve their current neighborhood situations.
Byrne, J. Peter, "Two Cheers for Gentrification" (2003). Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works. Paper 930.
Danyahel Norris, Houston Gentrification: Options for Current Residents of Third Ward. Thurgood Marshall Law Review 35.2 (Spring 2010): 239
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