Life in NYC: Gentrification

Gentrification can be defined as “the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals,raising property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.” One may ask, “why is that so bad?” or “why should it matter to me?” The answer to those questions is straightforward. Simply put, low-income families and small businesses suffer greatly from gentrification.  It causes culture and lifestyle change for neighborhoods and drives out the “lower class.” Often, people who are not financially stable or are under-employed thrive off of small, and personal communities that contain local businesses and cheap housing. It is their only means of living. When gentrification is put into the picture, local shops become big corporate stores and cheap housing becomes upgraded expensive, lavish homes, which evidently is not ideal for those who can barely afford to live.

Gentrification begins in housing. Big companies look into low-income neighborhoods as the prices of property is cheaper. From there they buy up all the land they can to “renovate.” They then put the newly revamped homes and spaces up for sale for drastically higher prices. Because of these high prices, families who previously lived in these under-developed areas are forced to move out as they cannot afford to live there anymore. These families are now forced to find new homes, however, with the growing impact of gentrification, in neighborhoods that were previously cheaper, it becomes a difficult spiral in searching for a home. Due to the fact that they already are not financially stable, they do not have the power to stop the rapid changes in their community. Gentrification revolves around money and corporate companies. Because it is centered around money, as opposed to people's’ lives and homes the local people have no say in what happens to their homes and stores so long as they do not have the money.

Another big part of gentrification is the erasure of small businesses and neighborhood culture. These two are linked as these small businesses give neighborhoods their unique style. For example, when new families move to neighborhoods, they begin to add to the mix of culture and become a crucial part of how the neighborhood is. When big corporations, such as Starbucks, move into the neighborhood, they begin to overpower small businesses and replace the original culture that made the area so unique in the first place. Independent businesses cannot thrive because these big companies cause prices to rise exponentially and people begin to lose their jobs and living. Small pizza shops or deli’s are replaced with Domino’s and 7/11’s, making it hard for the community to prosper.

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