There is no single, definitive result regarding the findings of gentrification. Various studies have concluded the positive effects of gentrification, while others have found serious negative effects of gentrification. This mix of findings proves that gentrification has numerous implications. Gentrification can provide many positives for declining neighborhoods, facing neglect and typically made up of an older, working class population. A reduction in crime, increased development and rehabilitation of the neighborhood are some of the benefits that gentrification can bring. These economic effects bring new investment and a higher tax base that results in increases in economic activity. The original residents may however, may not benefit from these economic gains. The new shops, restaurants and increase in higher-wage jobs may be unavailable to them. Some local businesses may also be forced out due to a change in demands or lose their leases under pressure from boutiques and restaurants. These changes also create a change within the identity of the community. The unique traditions and culture of the community may be lost as a result of gentrification. Residents begin to feel like they no longer belong in their community, causing anger and resentment towards the new residents.
These community changes are also due to the displacement of the original residents or organizations such as churches that are forced to leave, because they can no longer afford to stay. A lack of cohesion or a true sense of “community” is one of the biggest dangers in gentrification. The local government, who relish the revitalization and increased economic activity, usually support the gentrification process, so the concerns of the original residents are rarely taken into consideration when the local government approves changes. The social, economic, and physical impacts of gentrification often result in serious political conflict, exacerbated by differences in race, class, and culture. Current residents may feel embattled, ignored, and excluded from their own communities. Although change is necessary, it is difficult to achieve the necessary balance. This is currently occurring in North Philadelphia, and the community is fighting to stay together, while facing threats from gentrification.
Recently however, as Timothy Williams discussed in a New York Times article on March 3, 2014, cities in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburg have formed initiatives that reduce or freeze property taxes for original homeowners in an effort to “promote neighborhood stability, preserve character and provide a dividend of sorts to those who have stayed through years of high crime, population loss and declining property values” in neighborhoods effected by gentrification (Williams, 2014, 1). Newcomers are not discouraged but officials say a balance is needed, “given the attention and government funding being spent to draw young professionals — from tax breaks for luxury condominium buildings to new bike lanes, dog parks and athletic fields” (Williams, 2014, 1) “We feel the people who toughed it out should be rewarded,” said Darrell L. Clarke, president of the Philadelphia City Council, which last year approved legislation to limit property tax increases for longtime residents. “And we feel it is incumbent upon us to protect them” (Williams, 2014, 1) Housing experts say the arrival of newcomers to formerly working-class areas is distinct from previous influxes because new residents are now far more likely to choose to move into new condominiums or lofts instead of into existing housing, making the changes more disruptive.
Overall, I have concluded that gentrification is a difficult process that has potential to truly help a community flourish and grow. I support the initiatives started in cities undergoing gentrification, because I believe that they will help reduce the painful gentrification process and help keep communities intact. I think that if gentrification addresses the needs of the original residents during the process, than gentrification can occur successfully. I believe that the biggest threat to gentrification is the lost of community and the community’s culture. As someone who’s hometown is currently gentrifying, I have witnessed the conflicts that arise in the community and how the town’s unique culture has been lost. Tensions have formed between the new residents and the original residents, and the community has become divided. I think both groups have much to offer and learn from each other, and if the town made an effort, they could regain a sense of community again. Members of my town have struggled due to gentrification, mostly because they feel like they do not have control over the changes in their community and feel like they are being pushed out. However, I have also seen how gentrification has revitalized the town and some ways saved it, by reducing the crime and drug levels. The schools in the town have improved and the streets have become safer, which are important benefits that must be taken into consideration. With careful consideration and planning, the negative effects can be mitigated and gentrification can be successful.
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