Gentrification; How Can We Fight it?
by William Comtois on October 10, 2017 - 9:35am
Gentrification has become a rising issue in diverse parts of the world, this issue is of serious matter as it causes increase in rent for residents who might not be able to afford it. There’s also more to gentrification, on a cultural level, gentrification is also responsible for destruction of buildings which are important to a neighbourhood’s history. In Valerie Vande Pannes article “How Harlem residents found a unique way to fight gentrification” posted on Salon, shows a detailed overview of the causes & effects and ways to fight gentrification in New York City’s East Harlem.
East Harlem is known for its Spanish heritage, residents of this neighbourhood mainly come from Puerto Rico and Mexico but there are also African Americans as well as Italians. Here in East Harlem White Americans make up for only 3% of the neighbourhood’s population. This has not been the case recently though, in the last 10 years an increase in young white people have to move in and out of East Harlem. Effects from the increase in white Americans don’t go unnoticed, a two-bedroom apartment back in 2007 could be found at $1500 per month but today it is impossible to find that same apartment for under $2500 monthly. Homes have been torn down and replaced by modern condos and major Franchises such as Costco, Home Depot, Target and Applebee’s have also decided to move in the neighbourhood. The Spanish Neighbourhood is losing its history and culture and the residents are fed up.
The residents of East Harlem have decided to take a stand against the gentrification happening in the neighbourhood they love and call home. The way citizens have found to fight this phenomenon is through “Landmark East Harlem” a group devoted to getting landmark status on various properties in the neighbourhood. By achieving this status on properties, city developers who are interested in these properties to destroy and rebuild are forced to find another building. Although this process is working, it is one that is lengthy and complex as they only have 22 designated historic buildings yet. They seek to achieve historic district status on parts of neighbourhoods rendering every building in said building safe from gentrification but such process may take upwards of 10 years and require knowledge of every owner of the buildings in the designated area. As for now the community still fights every day in hopes of keeping what they call home as intact as possible.
I personally believe that what the residents of East Harlem are doing to fight gentrification is great. Gentrification should not happen as the negative effects out way the positive ones by tearing down houses which are homes to families. I think the New York City government should help the “Landmark East Harlem” project as it shows what people can accomplish when they come together and fight for what they believe.