Back in October last year, David Madden wrote an important column in the Guardian entitled “Gentrification doesn’t trickle down to help everyone“. I missed it when it first appeared, and I thank Judy McGuire of Vancouver’s Inner City Coalition for bringing it back to my attention.
The column begins by stating the problem clearly:
“It’s no secret that today’s big cities are massively unequal, and gentrification is now the predominant form of neighborhood development. In countless urban districts across the world, affordable housing is on the decline and displacement is on the rise.”
He goes on to note:
“Exclusion is rebranded as creative “renewal”. The liberal mission to “increase diversity” is perversely used as an excuse to turn residents out of their homes in …. areas famous for their long histories of independent political and cultural scenes. After gentrification takes hold, neighborhoods are commended for having “bounced back” from poverty, ignoring the fact that poverty has usually only been bounced elsewhere … The leading myth is that the only possibilities for neighborhoods are gentrification or urban decay.”
He concludes that
“Instead of either gentrification or decay, cities could push for more equal distribution of resources and more democratic decision-making … The opposite of gentrification isn’t urban decay; it’s the democratization of urban space.”
Well worth reading the entire piece.