Gentrification is a term which is mostly used negatively and a lot of people dislike it or will even try to avoid using this specific word, “gentrification”.
But, what exactly is Gentrification?
In simple words, we can say gentrification is restoration of a slightly poor urban area.
It happens when middle class people, in search of an affordable place to live, move towards those areas in the city where rents are not high and only some renovations can do the job making the housing society or the whole neighbourhood a better, affordable place to live.
Gentrification is in discussion these days, economists say there are more pros of gentrification than the cons.
Let me ask from you, if you were the mayor of the city you are currently living in, how would you like your city to be?
I am guessing the answer would be, a place which is safe for everyone, beautiful, modern, renovated yet affordable buildings to live.
The issue is, the more people shifting towards cities, the more hike in rents and the property prices is to be observed. In this case, gentrification becomes inevitable. Now imagine being a mayor of the city, when more people are coming to live in the city every day, you will not have any other option left except to renovate the old buildings and make them affordable for the new residents.
Let’s look further into the pros and cons of the gentrification.
Pros of Gentrification
- Cities do not expand
If gentrification does not happen, you will need to extend the boundaries of your city. Which means, you need more land to possibly build new housing societies there. Which means cutting down the trees, ruining the sceneries to get more land. On the other hand, gentrification will make use of what you already have and as a result, you will get a more beautiful and strategically planned city.
- Safe surroundings
Improving what a city already has, will change things for the better. Gentrification will allow new, modern and educated people in a neighbourhood. When these people are investing in a community building, they will want a safe surrounding, where one can take a walk, go to work on foot without having to worry about robbery or any possible crime happening.
- Business and job opportunities
Gentrification’s biggest benefit is that it creates more jobs and business opportunities. First, it will increase the value of the property and equity structures. Second, more people will get hired as new shops, cafés, restaurants will open, people for their services are hired too.
- Change in the atmosphere
When a lot of people move to a housing society or an area, all of them have different stories and experiences to share. Sometimes their interests match, middle class people tend to participate in community meetings and fun fairs. In areas, where gentrification has been observed, the change in culture was the most noticeable thing. It does not mean that the people who were already living there were not fun to be around. It means that the new people may have a little extra money to spend in the expense of some fun activities.
Cons of gentrification
- Gentrification ruins the historical heritage
We are not talking about those buildings that are over five hundred years old and are a property of the government, those buildings are always taken care of. We are talking about the buildings that are private property but are old. For instance, a building which is almost one hundred years old, made of old bricks and cement, built in an old beautiful traditional style, renovating it to make it modern will make it lose its charm as a historical heritage.
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- Homelessness hazard
When gentrification happens, the hike in prices is observed. The old residents who were living in a particularly cheap area may not be able to afford the new lifestyle. Also, when the value of the property increases, rants also increase. It can cause deplacement, people will have to leave their houses only because the prices are not in their range, and eventually they will end up on streets. And this will become a challenge for the city planners and administrators to deal with.
- Cultural change is not always a good thing
We discussed earlier that with the new people, new culture is observed too. Which is not always a good thing. If vegans and vegetarians come to live in an area, the meat store there will surely go bankrupt. If people are always buying new clothes, the used clothes shop will have trouble finding customers. Although gentrification creates more job and business opportunities, it can also become a great danger for the existing business.
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- Conflicts among the old and new residents can occur
This is another problem which can be caused as a result of gentrification. Not everyone can adjust in a new surrounding or with new neighbours. Gentrification can lead to many class or racial conflicts. It can also cause conflict among the community where people belonging to different religions or nationalities are living, which can eventually cause violence. Although, the administrators can always remove those people that cause restlessness.
To summarize the whole discussion, we will say that the gentrification process has its pros and cons like any other socio-economic process. If we look at the bright side, a renovated city is better to manage than building an entire new area of the city. Although there are many cons too, but those can be avoided by creating equal job opportunities for every class. All the conflicts/violence can be averted by implementing the law.
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