How to Stop Gentrification in New York

by Sandrine Bédard on October 4, 2017 - 5:13pm

A) Purpose of the article

The authors explain the cause of the gentrification in New York and propose 4 ways to solve the problem. The purpose of the article is to start a discussion on the urban crisis in New York and more precisely, to encourage the community to come up with a solution plan.


B) Authors’ main points used to support their opinion

The authors explain that, because New York is a world renowned financial pole, the city attracts higher-income individuals and high-tech industries. Elite groups formulate multiple demands concerning new urban development.  As a result, the space in the city has become ‘’contested’’ and prices have increased dramatically. So much so, in fact, that many lower-income can no longer afford to live where they are and have no other choice than to leave. It is unlikely that the Republican, right oriented, majority on Capitol Hill will put any measure in place to reduce New York’s stratification and social inequalities.

For that reason, the authors mention that the solution to the crisis in New York must come from the community. According to them, there are 4 measures that must be put in place:

1. Develop more affordable housing for the workforce. The city should force companies to invest in housing for their workers. That way, lower-paid and blue-collar residents could live near their jobs.

2. Upgrade low-paid routine jobs to family-supportive careers. There should be an increase in the wages in food service, home health care, and office work jobs.

3. Shift New York’s entrepreneurship and innovation from the Wolf of Wall Street mindset to broader community beliefs. Companies should reach to disadvantaged communities and offer them working opportunities.

4. Include more community benefits in the broader strategies. Urban planners should develop well-intentioned projects that don’t alienate residents, but make them convene and interact.


C) What makes the issue a social problem

1. Many voices are heard concerning this social issue: the authors of the article (professors), mayor Bill de Blasio, local leaders, communities and anchor institutions (universities, medical centers, real estate developers and large corporations)

2. During the last decades, there have been a significant increase in social inequalities worldwide, both on larger and smaller scales. As a result, many left-oriented movements for social equality have arisen. For the majority, the middle-class, equality figures as an important value. Therefore, it is said that there is ‘’a gap between social ideals and social reality’’ in the case of the urban crisis in New York.

3. New York is the biggest city in the United States with nearly 8.5 million citizens in 2014. From these, a large percentage about the gentrification of the metropole. This issue could retain national attention, if it does not already have.

4. On the website shared by the teacher, it is said that, to make a social issue, ‘’the condition must be capable of solution through collective action by people’’. It is the case here: the urban crisis is expected to be solved by community members only, without the help of the government.


D) Analysis/discussion:

I find it outrageous that the major roadblock to solving issue is the government. The government is supposed to work for the people, not against. Trump’s organization is to the right, so no wonder why it does put any measure to help lower-income individuals access decent housing in New York. However, the urban crisis in the metropole goes way beyond disparities in social classes, but could have tangible effect on New York as an economic pole. The migration of thousands of blue-collar workers out of the city would not only have impact on the city itself, but on areas nearby. If those people do not live near their work anymore, there could be an increase in traffic and/or a saturation of public transportation.

I believe that solution 1 and 2 are possible, if the government helps the city administration. However, solution 3 and 4 don’t seem realistic. I understand how non-profit organizations and social enterprises can help low-income individuals and minorities, but I don’t see that solution implemented on a larger scale. What incentive would normal, profit-seeking enterprises have to put in place special programs for disadvantaged citizens? There could be tax reductions for instance, but the authors don’t mention any. I believe solution 4 is a bit delusional, because it is entirely based on the good will of urban developers. We have seen in class that elite groups control much of the urban development, so why would they suddenly decide to create projects for inclusiveness? 


E) The article’s sources

The only source mentioned is a report the authors made for the Urban Lab at NYU School of Professional Studies' Schack Institute of Real Estate. The authors have strong qualifications and they seem experts in their field, so they constitute a source themselves for their article.


F) A link to the article