In class we started a discussion about gentrification and the problem it is posing for residents of the areas that are being gentrified. We didn’t go into much detail about all the aspects of gentrification and the arguments from various sides. In my urban anthropology class last semester, we had to have a debate on gentrification from the perspectives of the longtime residents, the gentrifiers, and small business owners. The argument from the residents’ side was the obvious, that rents are rising, businesses are no longer catering to their needs, and they are being pushed out. From the perspective of the small business owners, their rents were rising as well, and they are at risk of being pushed out. But at the same time, they can update the products they sell, and the services they provide in response to a changing population. They argued that because the former residents were being pushed out they were losing their customers, but new customers with more disposable income were coming in. From the perspective of the gentrifiers, they said they shouldn’t be labeled as these evil white people taking over poor neighborhoods. They argued that gentrifiers were themselves misplaced from their neighborhoods, and just found somewhere to live that was more affordable to them and places to open their own businesses that they couldn’t afford to do in other neighborhoods. They said it is not their intention to drive out former residents, and they are not the ones raising rent. They said bringing in more money to the neighborhood provides everyone, including the long time residents with better schools, transportation, businesses, etc.
There are many sides to gentrification not only poor vs. rich and they should be addressed.