How the Gentrification Narrative Gets it Wrong

A writer points to surprising statistics about Brooklyn—mainly that much of the borough is growing poorer as real estate prices fall—to make a point about how the common gentrification narrative fails cities.

According to Daniel Kay Hertz, "one problem with our obsession with gentrification as the end-all of urban equity issues is that it discourages us from talking about other important things happening in our cities." 

"Case in point: Brooklyn is getting poorer."

Hertz cites a post from "data-crunching blog extraordinaire Xenocrypt," which notes that "from 1999 to 2011, median household income in Brooklyn fell from $42,852 to $42,752." After mapping median income on the neighborhoods within the borough, it's evident that a "good three-fifths" of Brooklyn is getting poorer. The same trend of stagnation stays true for real estate prices in much of Brooklyn, which are actually falling.

That the larger picture goes underreported, according to Hertz, is a failure to recognize the full urban dynamics of Brooklyn and New York City (and, for that matter, San Francisco). Says Hertz of the common, diminished journalistic and advocacy perspectives: "we’re being deprived of an accurate sense of what is actually going on in our cities…how can we claim to be working for fairer, more equitable, etc., cities, if we’re ignorant of their most basic economic and demographic changes?"

Full Story: More on the Limits of Anti-Gentrification Politics: Brooklyn is Getting Poorer

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