Making the rounds is audio of Spike Lee giving a passionate response to a question on gentrification and whether or not it is a good thing.
This for me isn’t an easy question to answer as no doubt the additional services and increase in property value is great for those own, but those left renting are often displaced. Heck, in 2001 after I left LexisNexis in Chicago, I considered moving back to Boston so I could be closer to family. I went so far as to secure a new job with a major publisher.
However, didn’t end up moving back as couldn’t afford the rents. My old stomping ground of Dorchester (the heart of the hood in Boston!) had become ridiculously expensive due to gentrification. I also tried surrounding neighbourhoods and it wasn’t any better. Like Dorchester, areas in Roxbury, Mattapan, Hype Park, etc. had all become popular with hipsters and wealthy arrivals moving back to the city and rents along with property values had skyrocketed. So was quite disheartened because with the rents being what they were, no matter how hard I tried, the sums didn’t add up; not with my desire to eventually own a home of my own.
Fast forward to 2014 and things haven’t gotten any better. In fact, it’s only gotten worse. Heck, like so many others, my elder sister is considering moving out of Boston because property prices have become prohibitive. Renting is expensive and getting on the property ladder a major challenge. So is gentrification good? Well even with improvements to property, policing and schools, I’d have to say no. Not in its current form.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m against white people moving into inner city neighbourhoods. In fact, I think it’s better for our society if we all lived in mixed neighbourhoods. However, the migration back to the inner cities needs to be managed so as not to displace those who were there for decades. Progress can’t just come at the expense of those who endured for decades only now to be pushed aside.