Is Your City Suffering From Gentrificationphobia?

Matthew Yglesias diagnoses a common predicament facing many urban communities: the fear that improving living conditions is a <em>bad</em> thing.
October 11, 2012, 6am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Spurred by reports of a recent debate over the impacts of development in D.C. that discussed opposition to the larger, amorphous effect of a project (such as increased home values in the surrounding area), rather than the merits of a particular project, Yglesias laments the influence on urban politics of such a position (which he labels "gentrificationphobia").  

"'Your policies will improve quality of life in my community' should never be a complaint about a policy initiative," says Yglesias. "And ultimately there's no way to build a better society based on fear of improved living conditions."

He argues that "[t]he fact that these fears exist and have some rational basis is a great example of the deep problems induced by undersupply of urban housing. Not only is it bad for affordability, but it creates a perverse political economy in which people worry that improved conditions will be deleterious to their personal living standards. If your city's politics is dominated by gentrificationphobia it becomes very difficult to make progress on any other concrete problem."

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Published on Monday, October 8, 2012 in Slate
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