Black wealth and gentrification have become hot topics in most major U.S. cities. This isn’t anything new, however. Gentrification has been a polarizing topic for decades.
White flight, the trend of whites moving out of the urban core of major cities and settling in the suburbs was prevalent in the 60’s and 70’s. The current trend shows them coming back and taking over communities that are predominantly black and brown. These neighborhoods are often considered less desirable.
But as developers move in they purchase what is now considered prime real estate for next to nothing. They add a few bars and coffee shops and build two or three homes on lots that used to have only one. These homes are selling for 3-4 times the original purchase price.
With the construction of these “renewed” communities, rent and real estate prices have doubled and even tripled in some cases. For the younger more affluent residents, the convenience of city living and walkable neighborhoods have become increasingly attractive. So they move back.
The common euphemism for this phenomena is “urban renewal”. So what does this mean for poor and working class people who have lived in these communities for generations? It means they are now priced out of their own communities and forced to move.
This is Modern Aged Colonization
The physical barrier between the haves and have-nots is almost non- existent. You can see it in neighborhoods that are still in transition. Million dollar lofts and condominiums are being built across the street from housing projects. Expensive tall skinnies surround homeless shelters and outreach programs that serve the less fortunate.
Poor and working class citizens are reminded once again that they are invisible. Even professional middle class residents can no longer afford to live in their own communities. This is definitely the case in my Nashville neighborhood. Fortunately there is a solution.
People should appreciate and invest in their own neighborhoods when they can. If we wait until other people understand the value of our communities, it will be too late. Most of us will be priced out.
Check out Jay-z as he reflects on the topic in a recent performance.