Gentrification is Masqueraded as Revitalization
According to The Oxford English Dictionary, gentrification is defined as the renovation and improvement of a house or district so that it conforms to middle-class taste (Oxford English Dictionary). This definition absolutely fits the description of the current transformation of the inner City of Baltimore. When we look at neighborhoods such as Westport, Federal Hill, and Canton, it is evident that gentrification is on the City of Baltimore’s agenda. During the last two terms that Mayor Martin O’Mally has presided over the city, there have been many changes in administration and the population that are causing devastating effects on the city’s blue collar residents. The Baltimore City Department of Planning=s mission statement contends that its purpose is to provide the highest level of services and leadership in urban strategic planning, historical and architectural preservation, zoning and design, development and capitol budgeting to promote the sustained economic, social and community development of the City of Baltimore. Baltimore City=s planning commissioners adamantly declares Baltimore’s commitment to the revitalization of its most blighted neighborhoods, but at what cost? (www.ci.baltimore.md.us/government/planning/divisions.html#director). Through their strategic presentation, the Planning Departments implementation of these plans at first seems to address the needs of the city’s diverse population, but in most cases this is not the department’s true intention. What the departments mission statement does not contend but surely prescribes is, the intentional removal and displacement of the City of Baltimore=s lower class communities without any regard to how the City’s residents will be able to afford to live in their newly revitalized homes. There is much attention paid to detail when the city of Baltimore announces its newest plan for development and revitalization of a particular community. When Baltimore city developers plan the revitalization of urban developments, gentrification plays a most important role in the planning phase. Molly Rath writes: Couched in those terms, the notion of redirecting money from tattered communities to healthier ones suddenly seems less than egalitarian–sort of the neighborhood-revitalization equivalant of corporate welfare, the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. Then there’s the whole other race factor: Is concern over “income levels” and “demographic change” just gloss for an underlying assumption—that neighborhoods go south when white people move out and black people move in. If that isn’t enough to roil the revitalization waters, this emerging shift in neighborhood policy rings all kinds of alarm bells about gentrification and social engineering. Baltimore has avoided such prickly issues for the last decade with a community development approach under former Mayor Kurt Schmoke that favored the most decayed sectors in the city. Now, as Mayor Martin O’Malley’s administration begins formulating a new approach that gives greater consideration to neighborhoods that haven’t yet deteriorated those tricky issues threaten to surface. That has raised fears in some quarters of a polemical battle. But a surprising number of community leaders and activist—including some in the most blighted neighborhoods—recognize it’s a long-overdue change in direction, and they point to 12 years of stasis to make their point (“Turf Wars”). Revitalization in Baltimore city means that, in most cases many of its historically poor neighborhoods have or will be transformed into fast paced high income ranking communities (“Turf Wars”). Dozens of decaying drug infested communities remain unaltered, only communities like Canton and Federal Hill that have the potential to draw the attention of the upper class sector of citizens are even mentioned in the plans for revitalization (“Turf Wars”). Most of the remaining lower class citizens...
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