Negative effects of gentrification are a myth: OPINION

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

New York /
Jan.January 17, 2015 10:42 AM

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


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