The Perils of Gentrification

In Bedford-Stuyvesant, the changes that gentrification have brought to the neighborhood are fundamental, not just cosmetic. One planner talks about how neighborhood character could be retained.

"I'm an urban planner. As part of my job with MIT's Community Innovators Lab, I spent four months interviewing residents of Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill neighborhoods with the goal of understanding what gentrification means for the longstanding community, at a time when that community is being threatened by swanky glass-faced co-op buildings and hordes of new residents fleeing high Manhattan rents."

"Bedford-Stuyvesant, commonly called Bed-Stuy, formed in 1930. It is a historically black community, one of many northern urban neighborhoods that became home to African Americans who left the South between the end of Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movements."

"[In interviews with residents, I heard] Bed-Stuy stalwarts lamenting that the new people moving into their neighborhood, specifically the new Caucasian people, were un-friendly. My interviews revealed that the arriving gentry didn't say hello on the sidewalk, didn't hold doors open, and didn't try to meet their neighbors."

"But saying hello, of course, doesn't un-displace people who can no longer afford their homes. Affordable housing does the work of un-displacing people. Good policies create stabilized neighborhoods. Funds that support community institutions, such as churches and arts centers, facilitate local networks.

Saying hello is good, but it's acting within a given structure. The bigger battle is to fight for better structures, which isn't a one-person battle."

Thanks to Franny Ritchie

Full Story: Saying "Hi" in Bed-Stuy

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