An Alphabetical Compendium of the Gentrification Blame Game

When it comes to identifying and repairing the underlying causes of gentrification, there's plenty of blame to go around.

April 17, 2019, 10:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


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Paulafedyk / Wikimedia Commons

Joe Cortright lists, from A to Z, everything that has ever been blamed for gentrification. Cortright makes it obvious from the beginning that this list is intended as satire more than as an authoritative list on the subject:

It may be cathartic to point the finger of blame at someone or something else, but as this list shows, the blame game sheds precious little light on what’s really causing gentrification, and none at all on what we might do to minimize its negative effects.  Any discernible symptom of change in a neighborhood is likely to change the way it is perceived by residents and others.

So the list starts with artists before stopping by climate change and giving a shout out to Richard Florida. ("[L]ast year, a Washington DC lawyer sued the city government for following Florida’s ideas, which he claimed led to gentrification and displacement.)

If you're wondering how Cortright found something to blame starting with those most troublesome Scrabble letters, consider a little lettersmithing with LGBTQ, vouchers, and GenX. Zoning was probably an easier prediction to make for inclusion on the list.

The article also includes a sincere appeal for understanding and action on the real cause of gentrification, according to Cortright: a shortage of cities. "Now that we’ve rediscovered the long-established virtues of urban living, we don’t have enough great urban neighborhoods, or enough housing in the few great urban neighborhoods that we have, to accomodate all those who would like to live there.  This shortage coupled with growing demand is running head on into land use planning systems that make it impossible to build more of the kind of neighborhoods more and more people value."

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