The Woes of Young Working-Class Heroes

Young, educated city natives are being forced to pit their financial needs against their geographic desires in a battle against gentrification.

The recession has set off a domino effect of gentrification across the country, as rising rents force the middle-class population out of the neighborhoods they grew up in and into lower-income areas, writes Nona Aronowitz. As she puts it, "Young city natives who were raised middle class and are now struggling financially have upper-middle class tastes but working-class or poverty-level incomes." And with the change in location comes a political crisis for many who must now deal with the realization that, from a technical point of view, they have become gentrifiers, whether they like it or not.

Aronowitz describes her own experiences living in New York and shifting gears to a cheaper apartment in Harlem, but, she claims, what she and the younger working-class population in New York are experiencing is happening all over the country. "Young adults with a four-year degree are about 94 percent more likely to live in close-in urban neighborhoods than their less-educated counterparts (up from 61 percent in 2000). Yet many of those same young, educated people are living on the poverty line. Half of recent graduates are either jobless or underemployed."

Some would argue that the struggle to afford living shouldn't be equated to affording a lifestyle. In these hard economic times, 20- and 30-somethings may need to get used to adopting a simpler way of living.

Aronowitz suggests one alternative -- following in the footsteps of those who engaged in a "more constructive" form of gentrification, by relocating to "places like New Orleans, Austin, or the Rust Belt to save money, help with revitalization efforts, or become a big fish in a small pond."

Full Story: How the Recession Made Me a Gentrifier in My Home Town

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $16.95 a month
Book cover of Where Things Are from Near to Far

Where Things Are From Near to Far

This engaging children's book about planning illustrates that "every building has its place."
$19.95
T-shirt with map of Chicago

Show your city pride

Men's Ultrasoft CityFabric© tees. Six cities available.
$23.00