Controlled Urban Revitalization: Only Way to Stop Gentrification

Governmental policies to implement community development projects in the erstwhile torn neighborhoods have gained traction with the anti-displacement activists, who often raise their voices against racially motivated gentrification. But many human rights watchdogs are trying to stop gentrification in one way or another.

How to stop gentrification? Gentrification can only be stopped by controlled urban revitalization, introducing taxes for owners of vacant properties, modifying single-family zoning laws, and imposing additional taxes on rich people who come into newly gentrified areas.

Urban revitalization is undoubtedly a promising process to equip the old-fashioned neighborhood with modern-day facilities. This, in turn, 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 urban revitalization 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 most effective 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 individually.

Listening to Local Communities to Avoid Gentrification

Experts suggest that gentrification can easily be avoided by incorporating local voices. This means that people who are going to be at the receiving end of gentrification will need to have their voices in the lawmaking and development process.

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

Likewise, limiting property taxes for existing communities and collecting them from higher-income new residents can help to reduce gentrification.

Furthermore, small businesses should be given enough opportunities to thrive even if development comes in so that some big monopolies must not destroy the competition. This way, existing business owners who could potentially be affected by gentrification would not be impacted as such.

Stopping gentrification does not mean that urban revitalization should be stopped completely. In fact, urban revitalization should continue in collaboration with local communities, as community-led urban revitalization plans promise to bring incredible results for longtime residents in gentrified 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 a disadvantaged neighborhood, sponsoring subsidized housing is one approach to save indigenous people from relocating. Promoting community land trusts is the long-term solution in this regard.

As community land trusts are non-profit corporations, their charter is to buy the community land on the community’s behalf. This stops landlords from buying bulk plots at cheap rates and then selling them in the future for big profits.

Meanwhile, stopping land owners from buying all land at wholesale prices should also be discouraged. Some landlords could even try to start their own housing schemes by purchasing cheap land in disadvantaged neighborhoods, but if they are prohibited from doing it, gentrification can be stopped. This will save the housing markets from becoming unnecessary burdens, thus resulting 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 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 metro-New York rental market is rent-stabilized. Thus this act makes the area one of the unfavorable areas for gentrification, as it regulates the real estate market. The other communities need to follow suit. While rents are higher in New York compared to other places in the United States, these restrictions can be brought exclusively to those regions which are vulnerable to gentrification.

The rental control policies should be crafted in a way that they must serve the purposes 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 most prone to gentrification.

Only then can the true purpose of urban utilization 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 who live in the same neighborhoods. This is accomplished by increasing their skill sets by incorporating them into 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 historically neglected cities.

The common problem with these investments is that they increase the cost of living in the zone in transition, resulting in the displacement of older 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 not an 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, given 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

Gentrification is one of those curses that are hard to stop in their entirety. If gentrification has to be stopped completely, it means that urban revitalization, or development, has to be stopped completely as well. But some legislative efforts are promising to at least reduce the intensity of existing gentrification, which is troubling the lives of the masses.

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