Imagine the city you were raised in, renovated and booming with new businesses and tons of people. At first, you might think that the change is for the better, but is it really? You quickly begin to realize new people are moving in and rent is becoming too expensive, leaving native citizens closer to eviction each month. This is called gentrification, the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanied by the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas, often displacing poorer residents. Many say it is genius, due to its ability to advance society, but I disagree. I have witnessed the effect it has on housing and the economic status of local businesses.
Gentrification has become a serious issue in urban communities, like Brooklyn and Newark, Newark is in the process of being gentrified as we speak. As a Newark native, I recall the days of the early 2000s where Newark was filled with family-owned businesses and filled with tons of people, and the homelessness not being so huge than it is now. However, now it has taken a 180-degree turn. Gentrification has now taken apart the livelihood of small owned businesses and family-owned oriented companies and stories (like bodegas) and has a claimed victims with evictions and homelessness.
I was able to explore the gentrified areas of Newark and the damaged areas because of it. In my exploration, I discovered a town housing area in the Park Avenue district completely shut down. According to people who live close to the area, the city demanded that everyone in these houses were to be evicted and moved so that the city could rebuild it. But the problem is, no one really knows what's being built as this has been shut down for almost 2 years. Another site explored is a rundown bodega on a corner on Martin Luther King Blvd in downtown. Many small stores like these suffer due to the overwhelming competition of big named businesses taking over the frontlines of downtown and grabbing a hold of more customers.
This is a huge problem because a bodega can't compete with a big brand store like Whole Foods or a Starbucks, they fail economically and are forced to close or become bankrupt due to higher competing forces. Personally, my take is, a Starbucks and a Blaze Pizza are great for aesthetic appeal but cappuccino isn't going to suffice for a week against a can of beans or a bag of rice. Which leads to the problems of evictions and homelessness, due to people of the higher middle class coming into town and living here, the tax rates have gone up. Not to mention the fact that due to many of the higher middle class moving into homes, the costs of living and rent become much higher. This leads to many homeowners causing many of the other tenants in the homes to have their rents raised to an unbelievable/unaffordable amount. And when push comes to shove, and the rent starts to get out of hand, more evictions become the result. Thus leaving families with nowhere to go and no resources.
Nonetheless, gentrification has affected me as well, as it has forced many of my closest friends to move from house to house. Some have even been evicted and forced to live on couches of whoever's home they could spend the night for the day. This issue needs to be solved, but that's the problem- I don't think this is a problem that could be easily fixed or fixed without a huge consequence. If I could change this issue in my society, I would but I have a doubt in my mind that it can be fixed. However, if this could be fixed I would say it'd be best if these new stored areas should be moved to a less populated area and leave room for more family named stores. Or possibly have rent prices to be lowered but due to human greed, landlords in Newark aren't possibly going to do so. But these are the issues urban communities face, and these are the problems that become swept under the rug until we chose to shed light through the new buildings and onto our future generation.