The Atlantic: There’s basically no way not to be a gentrifier


This is one of the better articles on gentrification I’ve read. I have a couple things to add:

It’s important to note that the reason the author’s thesis is true has more to do with the economic principles that caused you to move to an area in the first place: supply and demand. If you as a relatively affluent individual demand real estate in a neighborhood at a certain price, it’s likely others do too. Add in businesses that come in to serve your needs, and demand (and prices) will go up. The intermediary step that can be a little more questionable is that if you as a white person move into a more diverse neighborhood, the mere presence of other white people will increase demand. Racism, it’s a thing.

The other issue is the issue that gentrification as a process is not a bad thing. In Boston, the rate of gentrification has not yet made it impossible to find housing on a transit line for a reasonable price. The cost of living is higher than other areas, but it is a city with a preponderance of services. San Francisco, on the other hand, is seeing rents skyrocket because of higher short-run demand (thanks, Google) and more dysfunctional rent control and real estate policies. It’s worth noting that Boston, though it has public housing, subsidies and affordable housing mandates, has no rent control per se. In case you haven’t understood my opinions on rent control, let me reiterate that Massachusetts does it way better than San Francisco.

The important point though is that ultimately gentrification causes prices to go up because it improves access to services in a neighborhood. The underlying problem is that higher demand causes equitability issues, because those with money can more easily live where they want than those without. And ultimately, income inequality is more to blame for that than real estate. Improve mobility, improve public transit, and the cost of access will go down, hipster coffee shops or none.


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