Gentrification, the Issue of Today Life

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Ever since the 1960s, there has been an influx of high-income populations moving into urban areas from the suburbs. This phenomenon was coined ‘gentrification’ by sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964 to describe “the movement of upscale (mostly white) setters into rundown (mostly minority) neighborhoods” (Hampson). Proposition 555 has stated that in order to increase government funding and provide citizens a better life with a cleaner environment and safer community, the process of gentrification would require the destruction of some old and unsafe houses. Since then, this policy has received mixed reception from all walks of life. Protagonists, on one side, consider gentrification as the solution to current hard urban issues. Antagonists, on the other side, believe that it causes severe poor-displacement. Debates seem to be endless, yet the whole society is changing due to the great impact of gentrification: luxury condos replacing once deteriorating houses, streets becoming cleaner, and crime rates declining significantly, thus, consolidating my strong support for Proposition 555. To begin with, the first and foremost upside of gentrification is economic improvements in the neighborhood because it boosts up the use of urban land and attracts more business investments. Brooklyn and the Bronx, two of the five boroughs of New York City, are two typical examples. Urban renewal in Brooklyn, also known as ‘brownstoning’, has encouraged a huge wave of investment: $300 million from the city and $3.5 billion from private investors (Browdie). While the former has been invested in Brooklyn Bridge Park’s construction, the latter has yielded “7.8 million square feet of new residential, retail and commercial space, including 26 apartment complexes, four hotels, and a glassy shopping complex” (Browdie). In regards to the Bronx, the gentrifying process has brought to the region a new appearance. The notorious neighborhood, which used to be considered off limits to investors due to commercial waste, crimes, and violence, has become “a diamond in the rough, being discovered” (Magistro). Today, the Bronx has numerous remarkable attractions like the Bronx Zoo—one of the world’s largest metropolitan zoos, the New York Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, excellent subway service, retail strip malls, and affluent bedroom communities (Magistro). In South Bronx, Majora Carter, a famous urban revitalization strategist says that the removal of Sheridan Expressway and construction of Lafayette Avenue has made this area appeal to stakeholders for parkland, affordable housing and local economic development (Majora Carter: Greening the Ghetto). Once urban land is in use, it signals huge economic improvements, especially in the tourism industry, job developments, and real estate. Recent studies conducted by Rutgers University have found that in New Jersey, historic preservation, part of the state gentrification policies, has significantly profited the state’s tourism. Besides 2,316 jobs created annually in this industry, New Jersey has earned $15 million in state and local taxes, $16 million in GDP, and $432 million for the economy (Listokin and Lahr). Moreover, in restructured neighborhoods, new projects associated with job training have emerged to meet the investors’ demands. For example, the South Bronx community is running the Bronx Ecological Stewardship Training project to “seed the area with green collar jobs” in the fields of ecological restorations so that its people will be qualified for these well-paying jobs (Majora Carter: Greening the Ghetto). As a result of being employed, a person gains a greater opportunity of sustainable income and will tend to purchase a house to settle into family life. In other words, gentrification is an impetus to the local economy because it stimulates the use of urban lands, opens more job opportunities, and encourages real estate. Along with economic improvements, a great number of social achievements have been...
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