Many of our ancestors have arrived to this nation with aspirations of living a life of success. Indeed this is the land of the free and the home of the brave but according to gentrification, which is the removal of lower class citizens through property renewal, the increase in cost of living and demographic shifts, it feels as if we are living in the exact opposite. Gentrification indeed has had some advantages but overall it has led to the increase of the homeless population, the loss of culture, and other social issues. Although in this day of age, gentrification maybe impossible to prevent since capitalism is what move us, regulations should be enforced to diminish this demon.(Watt) The historic root of the word gentrification, arrives from the prefix term gentry- that means the social class below the nobility, and the suffix –cation meaning the process of creation. Together they make the word “gentr-ification,” but gentrification is far more detailed than just being a process of urban renewal in social classes. In simple words, gentrification is the process where minorities are being driven out of their neighborhoods due to increase of cost of living and greed. (Sowell) A brief explanation would be to see what is occurring in our very own backyard in San Francisco, California. Since the early 90’s, San Francisco has been going through some drastic renovations. From new efficient transportation rail cars to sky-lifting condominiums, advancements have truly taken their toll in the breezy city. (McCormick) These improvements sound like a dream to many residents of the Bay Area but in reality society must take a look and see who exactly is being affected. Erin McCormick, a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, mentions in her article “Bay view revitalization comes with huge price to Black residents,” that the African Americans in San Francisco are the majority of the people whom are being oppressed by these neighborhood improvements. Nearly 40,000 African Americans have fled their homes in the urban counties of San Francisco due to inflation of property values and cost of living. These residents are now living in low-income suburbs of the Bay Area or have moved back to the South in a process McCormick labels as, “reverse migration.” (McCormick) By remodeling dwellings, adding shopping malls, and renovating infrastructures with “cosmetics”, market values have sky rocketed causing a chain reaction to inflation of nearly everything else leaving the lower class displaced from their homes. Owning a home is essential in fulfilling the “American Dream.” But in 2005, statistics recorded the median price of homes in San Francisco that had risen at shocking rate of 16.7% making $847,000 the average real estate value. This clearly sounds no dream but a sweaty nightmare to those in need of a home in the Bay Area. Minorities are being driven from San Francisco, as mentioned earlier, and with less and less Federal assistance in section 8 housing , more families in need of help, and fewer low cost residential neighborhoods that aren't plagued with violence and crime, life truly is hard for the lower working class. San Francisco has adopted a policy of if you can’t afford to live here in peace, get out. (Schwarzer) To understand gentrification, one must identify the root or cause of it. There are no exact causes for gentrification but there are factors, which “inspire” this awful process to occur. One factor would be capitalism itself. In a vast area such as San Francisco or Los Angeles, cities have been working side by side with retail corporations in order to make as much money as possible without acknowledging the aftermath. (Watt) Cases have occurred in Los Angeles for instance, where large retail corporations vision these so called “ghetto’s” as being an opportunity to expand their chain from one million retail stores to a million and one. One example would be from my very own personal experience. I was born and raised in...
Cited: 1. Freeman, Lance. “There Goes the ‘Hood” Google Books: Published by Temple University Press, 2006
2. Herbert, Steve. “Contemporary Geographies of exclusion I: Transversing Skid Row” Progress in Human Geography Oct2008, Vol. 32 Issue 5, p659-666 8p 03091325
3. McCormick, Erin. “Bay view revitalization comes with huge price to Black Residents” San Francisco Chronicle-Monday, January 14, 2008
4. Schwarzer, Mitchell. “San Francisco by the Numbers: Planning After the 2000 Census” San Francisco Planning+Urban Research Association (SPUR)- July 2001
5. Sowell, Thomas. “The New White Flight” Capitalism Magazine, November 25, 2005
6. Watt, Paul. “The Only Class in Town?: Gentrification and the Middle-Colonization of the City and the Urban Imagination” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research v. 32 no. 1 (2008) p. 206-11
7. “Living in a Rental Unit.” California Department of Consumer Affairs: California Tenants 2008 edition.
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