The Cost of Gentrification

Salon has an interesting column on the costs of gentrification.  The writer is talking of American cities but the relevance to Vancouver’s situation is clear and obvious.

“The not-so-hidden message of gentrification is that there is always plenty of money to go around, even public money, for the whims of the rich. But for low-income folks — whether they’re the residents pushed out by development, the city employees shafted as priorities shift, or building workers brought in for the new jobs — those resources are a mirage. The private development of mass gentrification, made way for by public policy including public financing, not only systematically ossifies but intensifies the economic inequality within our nation’s cities.

As Ta-Nehesi Coates once wrote for the Atlantic,

[W]hen we talk about gentrification, understand that we really are talking about the result of actual policies endorsed, not simply by shadowy interests group, but by actual Americans, erected with the explicit intent of making sure that another group of Americans remain a permanent peon class.”

The writer calls gentrification’s methods “brutal” and the end results “truly tragic”. That is probably true. But I see genuine benefits from the kind of change that comes direct from residents. I think of this not as gentrification (which always comes from outside) but rather as a necessary and healthy renovation (always coming from within), regardless of whether this change is in form or in use.  Gentrification and renovation are not two sides of a single coin, they are each a distinct currency.

This piece is worth reading, even several years after it was written.

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