Hiding Behind The Word Gentrification – An Excuse for Inaction

The other night at ECC,  the candidates were asked about gentrification,  Ward 3 candidate Gwen Wilkins went to the heart of the matter. “You have to ask yourselves, ‘How are we going to fix the abandoned, boarded-up housing if we don’t rebuild if we don’t remodel? People don’t want to leave their neighborhoods and I will fight to keep them there — but those abandoned, boarded-up houses need to be remodeled, they need to be redone or they need to be torn down.”

Wikipedia basically says: Gentrification is a process of changing the character of a neighborhood through the influx of more affluent residents and businesses, which can force out low-income residents due to the increased cost of rent and higher cost of goods. Gentrification can shift a neighborhood’s racial/ethnic composition.

This description of gentrification is more appropriate for a phenomena that takes place in a large city like Chicago, filled with different ethnic neighborhoods. Contrast Chicago’s 2.7 million residents to Rocky Mount, NC population of  54,242, the 17th largest city in NC. Ours is a small area of manageable consequences. It is an unworkable tenant to contrast a large urban city like Washington, DC, as mentioned the other night at the Forum, and infer that what happens there will happen here.

The word gentrification has become stigmatized. The negative connotation of this word is a convenient excuse for inaction and further skullduggery behind the scenes by those with their thumbs in the pie. When pressed, there is a button on a blinking sign that says, Displacement! If you think that’s wrong,  so is the state of neglect our earliest housing stock is in.

Gentrification will not have a strong negative impact on Rocky Mount. There is sufficient evidence now to prove that gentrification does not equate with automatic displacement. Restoring our neighborhood housing in Rocky Mount will significantly improve the economy and quality of life for many people in low-income areas. It encourages home ownership, and lowers crime. John Kennedy is credited with saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” If that is true so is the fact that we already have a substantial amount of the housing that is needed. If saving our neighborhoods becomes a priority, the lives of those the politicians say they care about, will change. You’ll love this…..I found in my research that there is now a more accurate term being used in communities like ours. Rather than gentrification, they are calling it revitalization.                                                                                

Take A Minute to Read Two Earlier Posts:                                                                               Gentrification and Displacement in Rocky Mount -#1

Part #2

About Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin

Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
This entry was posted in Gentrification and Displacement and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Hiding Behind The Word Gentrification – An Excuse for Inaction

  1. Jewell says:

    I’d like to see statistics where cities “revitalized” previously undesirable neighborhoods by other more affluent ethnic groups where the majority of the current tenants stayed put. Landlords or owners failed to repair theses houses, still may charge rent which require families and sometimes extended families to lived together to afford the expenses of these run down dwellings. If the incomes through better paying jobs doesn’t increase, if the credit requirements for home ownership remains the same, then you get people pushed out because they can’t afford to stay in these “revitalized” houses and apartments.
    Dress it up with a different word, it is what it is and always has been.

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    • Thank you for weighing in on this difficult problem. There are other issues beyond displacement that must be considered: The problem of neighborhood blight and the presence of vacant and abandoned properties have profound negative impacts on afflicted communities. Blighted properties decrease surrounding property values, erode the health of local housing markets, pose safety hazards, and reduce local tax revenue. Put another way: Economic disinvestment and the withdrawal of industry increase unemployment and worker migration, which lead to vacancy and deterioration The vacancies, in turn, reduce tax revenue for local governments, which respond by reducing public services and functions such as code enforcement, making the area less attractive and fueling further population loss. Buyers have difficulty obtaining mortgages for homes in neighborhoods with blighted properties and low sales because of under-appraisal. (Edited from studying the effects of gentrification. SFH )

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  2. Rodd says:

    What Rocky Mount Carpetbaggers do not want you to know!

    Gentrification is not a bad word just as it is not responsible for cultural shifts in cities. Frankly your Rocky Mount politicians, city officials, the clergy and community organizers are using this term to evoke images of the elderly and poor being pushed from their homes and apartments. Caution, this is being done so that a select few, who have purchased neglected buildings and homes at carpetbagger prices, may implement their OWN VISION of gentrification by reselling the property at higher process to developers for hotels, pay parking, restaurants, etc. Slyly they tell you they are doing it for you and to save your neighborhood from a racist agenda. However, they are not. The select few will pocket large sums of money from taking advantage of you through their cronyism and inside knowledge. Warning they intend to make a lot of money selling cheap property for higher prices and your neighborhood will continue to decay.

    The true definition of today’s gentrification is better neighborhoods; same neighbors.

    A hotel will not give you this neither will a parking structure that the city cannot afford. The community input sessions, rallies and events will soon end and you will be far worse off because of the lies you have been told.

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  3. John says:

    It’s called urban blight renewal. The very fact that the Carlton House project was scuttled by the city council only proves their inability to grasp the basic understanding of gentrification. The city council is repeating the failed attempts by larger inner-city urban blight renewal projects that add to the tax burden of the already overtaxed citizens.

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