Is Stagnation the Only Alternative to Gentrification?

David Madden laments that our current debate over gentrification, whether bemoaning a loss of authenticity or trumpeting the good that trickles down, "doesn't do justice to everything at stake." He suggests how to reorient the discussion.
October 10, 2013, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"In countless urban districts across the world, affordable housing is on the decline and displacement is on the rise," observes Madden. "This is especially true in New York and London, where observers are straining to find sufficient prefixes (megahyper and super have all been aptly applied) to describe the pace at which gentrification is changing the city."

"In an insidious way, the narrative of 'urban renaissance' – the tale of heroic elites redeeming a city that had been lost to the dangerous classes – permeates a lot of contemporary thinking about cities, despite being a condescending and often racist fantasy," he continues.

By framing urban decay as the only alternative to gentrification, the ways in which our cities can be improved to the benefit of all are overlooked. 

"It's beyond time that policymakers, planners and urbanites de-gentrified their thinking about cities," Madden urges.

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Published on Thursday, October 10, 2013 in The Guardian
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