Controlled Urban Revitalization: Only Way to Stop Gentrification

by Eli Mshomi

The governmental policies to do community development in the erstwhile torn neighborhoods have gained traction of the anti-displacement activists, who often raise their voices against racially motivated gentrification.

Urban revitalization is undoubtedly a promising process to equip the old-fashioned neighborhood with modern-day facilities, as it reduces crime as suggested by the social disorganization theory of criminology.

Urban revitalization and gentrification go hand in hand, as the latter is the by-product of the former. But proper planning can avoid this displacement.

Why is urban renewal an important element of modern societies, and how can it be done without triggering racial gentrification and cultural displacement? Let’s see.

When the development comes in any city under government's urban revitalization plans, the people living their are prone to leave the vicinity as they could no longer afford to live in the new area.

When the development comes in any city under government’s urban revitalization plans, the people living their are prone to leave the vicinity as they could no longer afford to live in the new area.

Ways to Stop Gentrification

Some of the famous ways to avoid gentrification in America are:

  • Listening to Local Communities
  • Promoting Community Land Trusts
  • Legislating for Affordable Renting Schemes
  • Endorsing Community Benefits Agreements

Let’s look at them one by one.

Listening to Local Communities to Avoid Gentrification

Experts suggest that to avoid gentrification, incorporating local voices in the process is the need of the hour.

Fixing the residential costs, promoting public and affordable housing units are some of the ways with which revitalization can be done without gentrification.

Limiting property taxes and getting them mostly from higher-income residents can help the Black community of the United States.

Small businesses should be given ample opportunities to thrive even if the development comes in so that some big monopolies must not destroy the competition.

Community-led urban revitalization plans are promising to bring incredible results for longtime residents in the gentrifying neighborhoods. The need of the hour is to develop a specific community only as far as the residents feel a need for the development.

For instance, if the residents are unwilling to get a new community center in their neighborhood, the government must resist pouring unnecessary funds into it. The same goes for any other developmental program.

This way, the over-development of the community can be avoided, which is the primary driver of gentrification.

 

Community Land Trusts to Curb Expensive Housing

Even if the government is unable to control the flow of investment in the disadvantaged neighborhood, sponsoring subsidized housing is the way to go to save indigenous people from relocating.

Promoting community land trusts is the long-term solution in this regard.

As these are non-profit corporations, they are intended to buy the lands of the community on the community’s behalf. This stops landlords from buying bulk plots at cheap rates and then selling them later on for big profits.

This will save the housing markets from getting unnecessary burdens.

This results in affordable community spaces, including housing and commercial buildings.

The working-class people of color will be able to maintain their residential status over the years by leveraging on these corporations.

Regulating Affordable Renting Regimes to Stop Cultural Displacement

Another approach is rent control policies that can bring down rents manifold.

Under the Emergency Tenant Protection Act (ETPA), 45 % of the New York rental market is rent-stabilized. Thus this cat makes the area one of the unfavorable areas for gentrification as it regulates the real estate market. The other states need to follow suit.

The rental control policies should be crafted in a way that they must serve the purpose of the needy ones instead of being another instrument of riches.

The government needs to ensure that the rental control policies are crafted by analyzing the data in the areas that are most prone to gentrification.

Only then the true purpose of urban utilization can be served.

 

Community Benefits Agreement

Community benefits agreements are yet another effective measure to stop displacement in any locality.

These agreements allow residents to extract maximum benefits from the community, making the neighborhood highly affordable for them.

These programs are famous for promoting employment opportunities for people of color while living in the same neighborhood by increasing their skill set by incorporating them in various vocational programs.

This also opens the doors for favorable working conditions for people of color.

Urban Renewal Should Not be Stopped; Gentrification Should

Governments, time and time again, announce big investments for the historically neglected cities.

The common problem with these investments is that they increase the living cost in the zone in transition, resulting in the displacement of the old low-income and middle-class residents.

Hence they can no longer afford to live in the newly developed urbanized area.

As it is now a proven fact that this dislocation was primarily targeting people of color, a new wave of racial profiling was disturbing Black Americans.

However, putting a stop to urban renewal is also no option. If it happens, no new development in the neglected neighborhoods would ever happen, which itself is a governmental failure.

Stopping displacement rather than revitalization is the key to successful urban renewal plans.

Revitalization, if done correctly, can become fruitful for people of color who often have limited access to a luxurious lifestyle.

A planned renewal drive is bound to bring new employment opportunities for black residents with their increased access to the modern-day lifestyle.

But the consequences of improper renewal drives are detrimental, which does more bad than good.

Final Thoughts

Urban revitalization programs are only good if they are followed by efforts to stop gentrification. 

Otherwise, it is an instrument to propagate inequality among the masses. 

The legislative branch of the government has a job to do if they want to invest in the torn neighborhoods, or they will be sponsoring the agenda of white supremacy.

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