July 1, 2017 Gentrification
Gentrification comes from the old French word genterise, which means “of gentle birth.” The term refers to the process of renovating poor urban neighborhoods. Gentrification can be seen as an attempt to beautify or civilize the lawless inner city. Essentially, investors buy up cheap falling down homes and businesses. Then they fix them up and flip them. Although some of the efforts might be altruistic, many are motivated by profit.
The largest problem with gentrification is the displacement of the poor. Once property values go up, so do property taxes and the poor can no longer afford their Ghetto homes. Starbucks and Yoga Studios may be more pleasing to look at than outdated laundromats and falling down department stores, but they don’t solve any real problems. Pouring the Middle Class back into City Centers doesn’t lift up the Poor. It merely replaces them.
Pouring money into Education and Health Care would produce better long term results. Giving those in poverty opportunities to better themselves is a way to make those of rough birth a chance to become gentler. Addressing the wage gap, inflation and racism is more important than giving a neighborhood a facelift.
It is sad to drive by boarded up businesses and abandoned homes. Economists talk about deindustrialization, the great white flight from the cities to the suburbs and desegregation, but nobody seems to be willing to admit that cheap land outside the city and a desire for higher profits created the poverty of the inner city. Gentrification for profit just creates all new problems. True change can only take place when we invest in people, not places.
Anyway, I’d never heard the term Gentrification until I got to Season 5 of Shameless. I thought it was an interesting theme or subtext to the show and I’ve seen it in real life. From Denver to Mansfield, I see efforts to try and improve Urban Decay. Hell, even Monett and Shelby have continued to evolve and change.