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Gentrification: Pro/Con


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BY: ELIAS BENDA, STAFF WRITER AND AIDAN CALDWELL, STAFF WRITERS

Pro:

Gentrification is extremely relevant to DC and the surrounding areas. However, the definition of gentrification falsely paints it as an adverse occurrence. The definition of gentrification, by Princeton University, reads; “the restoration of run-down urban areas by the middle class (resulting in the displacement of low-income residents)”. Since gentrification is a seemingly inevitable event, it is important to try and approach it in a positive, proactive light, as opposed to immediately giving the word a powerfully negative connotation. “The renovation of run-down urban areas” is a good thing, regardless of who or how it is being funded.

The problem with the definition of gentrification is the assumption that it always results “in the displacement of low-income residents”. This statement disregards the variety in cases of gentrification. Think about the possible benefits for low-income residents who live or work in or around the gentrified neighborhood. Gentrification offers new possibilities such as property value increases that give families leverage in the housing market and jobs created by the liquidation, reconstruction, and renovation projects, or those that new businesses would bring to the neighborhood. This could provide an excellent, convenient source of income for the (previously) low-income residents of the neighborhood. The capital being invested in the neighborhood by the middle-class will undoubtedly draw the attention and funds of the government, resulting in investment in public services and amenities. And who is to say that the gentrification of the city in the past 15-20 years hasn’t been the reason for the drop in murder and crime rates?

These examples are just a few of the innumerable positive outcomes of gentrification, and seem to benefit not only the middle-class investing in the neighborhood, but also those who originally inhabited it. Gentrification is a tool that society can take advantage of in order to improve ourselves, our neighbors, and our city as a whole.

Con:

Hey Wilson students, I know you might want to just skip to “Kids in the Hall” but I want to talk about a problem in our city, in our neighborhoods, and even our school. So listen up.

This problem is “gentrification.” Washington D.C. has quickly become gentrified; especially within the last five years. To the untrained eye, gentrification in D.C. looks like regular development. Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not.

Gentrification occurs when members of a higher economic class move into a neighborhood or urban area, forcing out a more economically-challenged group of people. Sound familiar? I thought so.

Some of D.C.’s most gentrified areas are H Street NE, Brookland, Columbia Heights, Shaw, Adams Morgan, Navy Yard and Capitol Hill. Other neighborhoods are quickly being impacted by the same problem. And yes, gentrification is a problem.

Imagine this: people who have lived in their homes for decades are forced out. They move to different parts of the city or out of the city altogether. Property taxes rise and as the neighborhood changes, people can’t afford amenities in their own neighborhoods anymore.  Gentrification affects local businesses. Owners can’t come up with their rent because the land that they have created a community around is now so high in value. Why? Because of the new bar across the street or the condos next door.

We as a city are losing our culture and identity quickly due to gentrification. People who were born, raised and made their careers in D.C. are moving out to P.G. county and sometimes even further out in the DMV.

A fancy new hipster bar/coffeehouse developed by some restaurant ‘guru’ from the Bay Area can’t make up for the loss of homes, neighborhoods and even livelihoods. These new and upcoming businesses don’t think twice about bulldozing local business to make a buck.

One longtime owner of a legendary body shop off H Street NE, says, “It’s really a shame. It seems like each day five businesses are closing down.” He too is currently packing boxes because the owner of his building has made other plans for it.

Meanwhile city officials are praising all this the expansion and development while ignoring its negative effects. There is no development in this city. There is only gentrification. Gentrification will eventually cause us to lose the thing that makes this city so great: its people.

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