The Real Deal New York

Negative effects of gentrification are a myth: OPINION

Writer John Buntin argues that well-heeled bohemians are nothing to fear

January 17, 2015 10:42AM

Williamsburg, a symbol of gentrification

Williamsburg, a symbol of gentrification

First Soho, Chelsea, and the East Village, then Park Slope, Williamsburg and Fort Greene – these neighborhoods have supposedly all succumbed to gentrification.

But according to writer John Buntin, gentrification is a myth based on middle-class anxieties.

When asked to describe gentrification, most people would tell a story of artists, bohemians and gay couples moving into run-down but charming and historic homes. The houses are restored, trendy businesses follow and rents and home prices rise. Eventually the lower-income residents are forced out.

However, Butin, writing for Slate, argues that this narrative doesn’t hold up under scrutiny:

“Gentrification of this sort is actually exceedingly rare. The socio-economic status of most neighborhoods is strikingly stable over time. When the ethnic compositions of low-income black neighborhoods do change, it’s typically because Latinos and other immigrants move into a neighborhood—and such in-migration is probably more beneficial than harmful. As for displacement—the most objectionable feature of gentrification—there’s actually very little evidence it happens. In fact, so-called gentrifying neighborhoods appear to experience less displacement than nongentrifying neighborhoods.” [Slate] Christopher Cameron

  • REGuy1

    Bedford-Stuyvesant, predominantly low and middle income african-american neighborhood now seeing the effects of gentrification in it’s real estate prices and sales,(3 million for a townhouse) these properties do not attract solely african-americans however the previous residents of the ethnicity have a chance of being replaced with a different one.

  • DTNYC

    I have no real issues with gentrification, but to deny that it displaces the poor is sheer idiocy. It has happened in neighborhood after neighborhood. That’s a fact! The only areas that would not apply is the Financial District where there weren’t any poor to begin with; they just repurposed obsolete office space into housing.

  • DR.FUNK

    Gentrification is’nt bad as a concept. The 238 year “affirmative action” program underpinning it that guarantees most of the participants and beneficiaries will be white…is. Afterall,our most recent economic collapse is EXHIBIT A proof that whites are’nt terribly competent with money.Especially as it relates to real estate.Yet our “recovery” seems to come in large part on the wings of a government willing to give a handout / do-over / reset to these very “gentrifiers”.Go figure.

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