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Friday, April 25, 2014

There Are Plenty of Ways to Combat Gentrification

Posted by on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 6:09 PM

So this article by Daniel Hertz (no relation) called "There's Basically No Way Not to Be a Gentrifier" is making the rounds. And the whole thing is great, especially this part directed specifically at college-educated, upwardly mobile young people:

You can't escape the role you play in displacement any more than a white person can escape their whiteness, because those are both subject to systemic processes that have created your relevant status and assigned its consequences. Among the classes, there is no division between "gentrifiers" and "non-gentrifiers." If you live in a city, you don't get to opt out.

Good analogy. The headline, as it turns out, is misleading clickbait. Hertz isn't saying you can't do anything about your role in gentrification—he's saying don't confuse personal lifestyle choices with political action. There's plenty of things you can to do stop gentrification. Because just like there are white people who engage in anti-racist activism, one can resist gentrification by doing any of the following:

None of your personal decisions about where or how to live will have any effect on gentrification. Being considerate to your neighbors might make you a good person, but I'd like to suggest that you have another kind of responsibility: to be aware of these underlying systemic processes and use what social and political power you have to change them. The exact solutions can be debated, but I would start by lobbying your local government for housing subsidies for the low-income, protections against eviction due to rising rents, and an end to exclusionary caps on housing construction that keep prices artificially high.

Or you can, say, stand with the last black owner of a nightclub in a gentrified area while the city tries to shut him down (again). Or engage in dramatic public protests designed to draw people's attention to displacement and corporations that dodge taxes (meaning less money for affordable housing). There's tons of stuff you can do. Choose one, do it, and—poof!—you're less of a gentrifier than you were before.


Comments (49) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
A modest proposal (troll): perhaps we spend less on subsidized housing and more on subsidized moving.
Posted by kinaidos on April 25, 2014 at 6:18 PM · Report this
Wow. And for just pennies a day you, too, can absolve yourself in any real action with the fake-o-matic 9000! Tired of the hard work of relationship building and diplomacy that ends in tangible results?With the 9000's handy pablum spewing jet action, just one blast erases that nagging feeling of actual work that comes with ushering change. You'll be back to profound misunderstanding in no time! Order yours today!
Posted by Floofy on April 25, 2014 at 6:51 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 3
Or build $1000 small houses with solar roofs and south facing solar walls - fewer homeless more housing more local energy
Posted by Will in Seattle on April 25, 2014 at 6:59 PM · Report this
Shorter Ansel Herz: White people bad! Educated white people really bad! Educated white people with good paying jobs REALLY FUCKING BAD!

Ansel- do us all a favor, if you have so much god damned guilt, just shoot yourself and end the fucking pain already.
Posted by My butthole really fucking Herz on April 25, 2014 at 7:07 PM · Report this
White people move out?


White people move in?


Pick a lane and stick to it ladies.
Posted by Happy Gentrifier on April 25, 2014 at 8:01 PM · Report this
Or, just advocate for what you want, the redlining of white people. Ban white people from moving into certain areas of the city. Is that what you are advocating here? Or do white people have to prove their class provenance to some self-appointed anarchist committee?

P.S. Ansel... you have probably not investigated the "history" of black nightclubs in the area of late, like Deano's and the later Chocolate Club... a center of open crack dealing on Madison and 23rd. The area was a no-go zone until those places were put out of business. Sorry you weren't here to experience it, but I'm sure you would have been like "they're just out having a party, ignore all those bullets and crack vials! Bigots!"
Posted by Whatevs, yo, we live in the area on April 25, 2014 at 8:05 PM · Report this
Shoot a couple more white techies and that will slow gentrification.
Posted by And lower rents on April 25, 2014 at 9:33 PM · Report this
Nothing works like making yourself known.

Gentrifiers move to places that are 1- cheap(er) and 2-rough/edgy/hard/hip.

They move to adopt the neighborhood to themselves while displacing the native community by begging city government and law enforcement to harass locals into leaving.

The way to stop this = Simple. Make yourselves known and (legally) disrupt gentrifiers at every step.

Hipsters trying to move a 'trendy' store associated with gentrification/nonlocal culture? = Press the municipal government until their license application is refused.

Hipsters and gentrifiers moving into housing? Do everything youve been doing before but louder and more obvious. Gentrifiers love to say they live in 'tough' neighborhoods, but in their hearts they are just as scared of brown and black people as their suburban parents and cousins. Hang out outside more. Walk instead of driving. Remind the newcomers that they are in your neighborhood and must become members of your spot. You are not the outsider, they are.

Dont let Seattles only 'safe spaces' (the psychological in place where you feel comfortable being you without irrational harassment, fear, rage or distress from others) for african americans go down without a fight.
Posted by araucania on April 25, 2014 at 9:39 PM · Report this
"Hipsters trying to move a 'trendy' store associated with gentrification/nonlocal culture? = Press the municipal government until their license application is refused."

You think the city will ban brew pubs, cupcake shops and doggy toy stores? I think @7 has a better idea, let a few techies get caught some crossfire.

@8 By the way, they already have a city you just described. It's called DETROIT. You should move there.
Posted by Happy Gentrifier on April 25, 2014 at 9:50 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 10
Times change, neighborhoods change. You can wring your hands and play act all you want, but that won't change a thing.

Why not concentrate a building new communities instead of pretending that yours in encased in Amber?
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on April 25, 2014 at 11:22 PM · Report this

could you be any more of a racist douchbag?

Posted by is eating dicks your hobby or your job? on April 25, 2014 at 11:52 PM · Report this
Seems pretty simple; if you have a decent income and you live in an economically diverse neighborhood, move out. If you own a successful business in in such a neighborhood, move it somewhere wealthier. Reversing gentrification is completely straightforward.

But as I've said before, you might find that the only thing worse than gentrification creeping into a neighborhood is gentrification creeping back out again.
Posted by robotslave on April 26, 2014 at 12:10 AM · Report this
@7 No, that would speed gentrification.
Posted by yuiop on April 26, 2014 at 12:35 AM · Report this
Many minority neighborhoods were created through a process that relied heavily on "Redlining". I am glad to see people step over and beyond these these redlines to decide for themselves where they want to live. If that means "Gentrification" I am ok with it. You may snicker at places like Kent but for many it is the too long denied American Dream. To have a home of one's own in a place of ones own choosing.
Posted by Zander on April 26, 2014 at 1:14 AM · Report this
for every white yuppie moving in the CD there was a black owner selling to them and happily saying to themselves "thank god I bought a house, thank god my neighborhood didn't become a crack den like Baltimore, thank god my years of work and mortgage paying NOW pay off and I take some equity out of this house and can move to Renton." Not ONE of those black people selling told their realtors "don't take top dollar, look for a poorer family to sell to, I would like to give up equity in this home sale please." Nor did any of them tell their realtor, "please don't sell to whites" as that would be illegal, unethical and discriminatory. the notion that you can buy high in the cd or beacon hill then whitewash yourself by being a hipster hanging out at the black club in Columbia city is just stupid silly white guiltier than thouism; it's display moralism, something White People Like. Either man up and say "let's redline the CD again, white people move out, let's lower property values there!" or just accept the fact that gentrification is okay as it's rising property values helping some black family in the sale. and again: look at the trivial bullshit we comment about when there are huge legally redlined communities in DC and Puerto rico without equal voting rights by law -- communities you and I vote to make laws over, like they are our colonial subjects, and the vast majority of seattlites and northwesterners and americans and liberals in general don't care a whit. because they'd rather holier than thou all day about how fucking moral and great they are in their sensitivity and attempts to erase racism from their souls; apart from writing drivel like how to whitewash your gentrifying effects this writer probably has sensitive photos of black kids from Kenya or south Africa on his walls that he sensitively took and then threw them a dime or something. this kind of cheap and lazy moralizing is so eazey peazey -- ensuring real equal voting rights for six million in DC and Puerto rico et al. is hard work and requires real self examination -- so why bother, right?
Posted by liberals at playing holier than thou on April 26, 2014 at 4:17 AM · Report this
Rotten666 16
The party line goes something like this: white people were assholes when they moved out of the neighborhoods in 60's/70's, now they are assholes when they move back in.

Can't fucking win.

Posted by Rotten666 on April 26, 2014 at 6:53 AM · Report this
Rotten666 17
@15 winner winner chicken dinner
Posted by Rotten666 on April 26, 2014 at 6:56 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 18

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Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on April 26, 2014 at 7:28 AM · Report this
badstone 19
I'm with #15. 'Gentrification' is putting a dirty word on the natural process of neighborhood turnover that happens in a city. If you're concerned about poor people, get active addressing government policies that contribute to rising income inequality and joblessness. Start lobbying against zoning laws that make it illegal to build the kind of dense urban neighborhoods that the younger generation is looking for, and maybe the ones that do exist won't be so rare and expensive.
Posted by badstone on April 26, 2014 at 8:03 AM · Report this
Greenwood 20
+1 for excellent unregistered comment at 15
Posted by Greenwood on April 26, 2014 at 8:21 AM · Report this
JF 21
Did... Did he just suggest that renters shouldn't be evicted if they don't pay rent? That's insane.
Posted by JF on April 26, 2014 at 10:18 AM · Report this
@20 blacks profiting from their homes in not something Anzelarchist supports. That's the problem for his ilk, profit making. They still think communism works.
Posted by Sugartit on April 26, 2014 at 10:26 AM · Report this
The only folks allowed to complain about gentrification are the Indians. So head on down to Victor Steindrunk Park and flip them a dime.
Posted by Kennewick Man on April 26, 2014 at 10:35 AM · Report this
Doctor Memory 24
Yammer on about evictions and gentrification all you want, here's the meat of the matter:

...and an end to exclusionary caps on housing construction that keep prices artificially high.

As long as incumbent property owners get to prop up their property's value by quietly vetoing new construction (of course they never call it that, it's always "preserving the character of the neighborhood"), every attempt to preserve middle- and lower-class housing in our cities in the post-suburban era is doomed. Everything else is commentary.
Posted by Doctor Memory on April 26, 2014 at 10:39 AM · Report this
Urbanism and gentrification go hand in hand like toilet paper and shit. Urbanism and density are shit white college educated liberals want, so when they show up insisting on more density and cho-cho trains paid with regressive taxes, fucking shoot them. That'll keep rents down.
Posted by Save America's Ghettos! on April 26, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Report this
If I were in charge, the city would launch a new non-profit that would buy up every unused/vacant property within five blocks of Aurora Ave North and just start putting up apartments. The non-amenity types for the majority of us who don't care if our building has a gym, dog walk, and hospitality suite.

Developers have no fiduciary interest in increasing the inventory of middle income housing, so it's up to the public to make it happen. Let's create new communities instead of moping over the changes happening in the current ones.
Posted by jeffinfremont on April 26, 2014 at 10:53 AM · Report this
News flash for guilty white Seattle liberals: poor cavemen get shittier caves.
Posted by Neanderthals lose: Seattle liberals weep on April 26, 2014 at 10:58 AM · Report this
@26 great idea. Let's call them 'Cabrini Green on the Sound'.
Posted by Robert Taylor on April 26, 2014 at 11:02 AM · Report this
Hernandez 29
@8 A lot of these educated, white, upwardly-mobile, young liberals will eventually start to lean conservative as they get older (and stop giving a shit about anything related to gentrification and racism) because of attitudes like yours.

It boils down to the fact that even intelligent, socially-conscious people eventually just want to stop feeling bad for being materially successful. Catalina's comment @10 is the perfect response to your reactionary thinking.
Posted by Hernandez on April 26, 2014 at 11:05 AM · Report this

Sweet. Just let us know when you figure out how to fund that non-profit.
Posted by robotslave on April 26, 2014 at 11:10 AM · Report this
Fnarf 31
Protests don't mean shit.

One thing you can do is not participate in economic terrorism. Coffee shops moving in? Buy your coffee from the shops that were there before, even if they weren't very good. Don't buy cupcakes; buy pupusas. Eat in restaurants that were there before you. Don't buy anything unless it's from a person of color. Pay attention to what kind of bar you're in. If a person of color buys a restaurant or a store or a hair salon, go to that one. You might have to pay more; the people who live there do. Forget you ever heard of craft cocktails or handmade shoes or organic gluten free chocolate.

Communities are built on money transactions. Put your money in the community you claim to be interested in preserving, not the community that's trying to move in. White people are allowed to live in the neighborhood but not displace the neighborhood. If that means you have to forgo some of your favorite white experiences, too bad. Do them elsewhere.
Posted by Fnarf on April 26, 2014 at 11:25 AM · Report this
I'm really surprised by how few comments here seem to accept the notion that gentrification is a problem/has negative affects on the displaced communities, even ignoring the string of anonymous troll comments.

Look, the actual process of wealthier, whiter people moving into poorer, less white neighborhoods is inexorable as long as it's culturally desirable to live in cities. Stopping or reversing gentrification is a fool's errand. What we can do is slow the displacement effects which can be so detrimental to individuals and communities. But, like the article says, that's a structural issue that demands real political action to address. The issue of whether any particular individual lives any particular place and how they act while there is mostly irrelevant.

Nobody in the comments here seems to want to actually engage with that thesis though. Maybe this would have gone better if it was posted earlier in the day: posts made after everyone leaves work at 5pm tend to not get good comment threads.
Posted by the other one on April 26, 2014 at 11:27 AM · Report this

That's a lovely scold, but I do notice you haven't actually offered any suggestion of what to do about the issue of displaced communities.

If you haven't got any ideas yourself, maybe you shouldn't be wagging your finger like that?

The best way to address a shortcoming in an online discussion is to simply contribute the sort of discussion you think is missing, rather than moan about its absence.
Posted by robotslave on April 26, 2014 at 11:44 AM · Report this
"Buy your coffee from the shops that were there before, even if they weren't very good. Don't buy cupcakes; buy pupusas. Eat in restaurants that were there before you. Don't buy anything unless it's from a person of color. "

Says the guy who loves on Phinney Ridge.
Posted by Fnarf has his Whitopia on April 26, 2014 at 11:48 AM · Report this

That's all well and good if the older businesses are selling the same things as the new businesses, but so many of them aren't, right?

Is the wealthier, newly arrived resident looking for a good wig shop, storefront church, pawn shop, payday lender, dollar store, prepaid cell phone shop, ethnically or culturally specific clothing boutique, inexpensive jewelry store (and gold buyer), or foreign wire-transfer provider?

The ethnic restaurants already do outlast the rest of the businesses that support (or comprise) the displaced community, because the new arrivals behave exactly as you say they ought to. And it doesn't do a blessed thing to preserve the culture and character of the place.
Posted by robotslave on April 26, 2014 at 12:07 PM · Report this
@35 be like Macklemmore! Oh wait, he lives in a palace in the nice part of Cap Hill now.

Bellevue has managed to not displace minorities, why is that?
Posted by Sugartit on April 26, 2014 at 12:14 PM · Report this
@33 Fair enough!
Posted by the other one on April 26, 2014 at 3:24 PM · Report this

No. People dont 'become conservative' because 'deer teh blax', they decide they dont give a shit about others OR decide they hate XYZ groups that they dont belong to, and become unaware that their success is due mostly to luck and privilege.

If Gentrifiers were so tolerant and accepting when they are welcomed in, why are places like the Oakland hills, capitol hill and West Seattle and even north central Portland full of yuppies and hipsters that shit their pants if they so much as see a black person walking the other direction on the street? If they are 'normally' so understanding of others, why do measures like the recent metro proposition fail?

Because gentrifiers, despite their faux cosmopolitian artificial image, are no different at heart than your typical suburban conservative. Maybe they have a gay friend, and have read a few feminist essays, but as far as tolerance to the poor and black and red and brown, they are no different than their Bill O Reilly-esque parents.
Posted by araucania on April 26, 2014 at 4:28 PM · Report this
@38, I don't see nearly as much bigotry in the young people moving to the city as I do in your posts.
Posted by LJM on April 26, 2014 at 5:22 PM · Report this
The argument about gentrification is moot. Not only has it already happened there wasn't much to gentrify in the first place. The generation that lived in the cd, forced there by restrictive property covenants and prejudice, are gone. And good jobs, which form the backbone of any community, are found in other places. I moved back down south and have found more successful black folk, paying mortgages, raising families and making living wages than anywhere in the north.
Posted by Out of seattle and happy about it on April 26, 2014 at 5:43 PM · Report this
Before my block gentrified I had a crack-dealing convicted murderer disturbing the peace every damn day, boom cars disturbing the peace every ten minutes, and random psycho events (shootings, stabbings, street fights, mental breakdowns, aggressive scams, muggings, etc etc etc) happening on a near-daily basis. Now they happen on a monthly basis. Remind why gentrification is a bad thing?
Posted by Billy Chav on April 27, 2014 at 1:06 AM · Report this
Oops, I'm white and bought a house in the Central District. I'll submit myself for readjustment as soon as the bureau opens in the morning.

Except that hold on a second: This is a house that nobody wanted, that sat empty for years, and was going to be knocked over for townhouses until the original owners went bankrupt. A new set of people slapped on some paint and stuck a "For Sale" sign out front. I bought it (no idea the race of the previous owners, never met them) and am slowly fixing the inside. If I can sell it for a profit someday, I will.

Meantime, I will patronize the businesses that I want to patronize and spend my money where I want to spend it. I won't go out of my way to change the neighborhood but I do get the right to complain and to ask for things and to make my views known just like any other taxpaying, voting, and citizen resident of the City of Seattle.

"Gentrification" is just another way to say "keep out, kind of people I don't like."
Posted by dawyv on April 27, 2014 at 3:27 AM · Report this

I don't mean any disrespect but did you buy your home outright with money you saved up or did you get a loan. One of the main reasons that not only the cd but poor neighborhoods across the country are seeing such a huge development and demographic change is an influx of capital that has never been available to its black,Latino ect. residents. Homes in these neighborhoods are affordable not because of lack of initiative to own homes on the part of the poor folks that lived there but a long history of racism and bigotry. Here's one of many articles on how the cd became predominantly black and poor.…
Posted by Don't ignore history on April 27, 2014 at 6:26 AM · Report this
@43 so we should lower that standards for home loans? Tell me again why that might not be such a good idea?
Posted by Happy gentrifier on April 27, 2014 at 8:36 AM · Report this
Why should anyone ever be embarrassed to gentrify a neighborhood? Quite a silly thing to worry about. I certainly don't and yes, I will call the cops.
Posted by Happy gentrifier on April 27, 2014 at 8:53 AM · Report this
I think this comments section shows why the word "gentrification" might have reached the end of its political just leads to a lot of defensiveness and divisiveness between people who probably agree with each other more than they realize. Like the article that Ansel linked to said: The focus should be on economics, housing policy, and the types of deals that cities make with developers. Not on where individuals choose to live.
Posted by so unregistered on April 27, 2014 at 9:04 AM · Report this
You know, if blacks in the CD stopped killing each other (busy weekend!) and focused on their white interlopers, that would do a lot to stop gentrification.
Posted by Blam Blam! on April 28, 2014 at 7:52 AM · Report this
NaFun 48
@38 wtf are you talking about?
Posted by NaFun on April 29, 2014 at 6:30 AM · Report this

Funny, I was about to say the same thing about your right wingery 'libertarian' comments in other threads.

@48 Who are you? Also, do you know any black people from the metro that work in any industry other than tech?
Posted by araucania on April 30, 2014 at 12:42 PM · Report this

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