Is gentrification really that bad for communities?

Don't get me wrong, Displacing the poor and rampantly increasing housing cost is not the best.  But at the same time you are often left with safer and wealthier neighborhoods.  

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Comments (63)

Sep 28, 2021 - 7:18pm

It's not gentrification that's the problem.  It's the NIMBY types.  They have to take L's sometimes or else nobody else is gonna own a house but them.  My hometown is gonna have a bunch of manufactured housing built in what was once farmland and everyone's crying about it.  Even though it's just fucking farms.

It's impossible to stop the changing character of neighborhoods but it would be much easier on those who can't afford it to have other affordable places nearby

Sep 28, 2021 - 7:59pm

It's not gentrification that's the problem.  It's the NIMBY types.  

These achieve the exact same thing at the end of the day. At least with NIMBY types, they're straight up telling you to look somewhere else, whereas with gentrification you are essentially being priced out of your home and heritage.

My hometown is gonna have a bunch of manufactured housing built in what was once farmland and everyone's crying about it.  Even though it's just fucking farms. 

Ever heard of the comment "different strokes for different folks" ? Some people like wide spaces, the farmland, and having many cattle.  

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Sep 28, 2021 - 8:07pm

To an extent, you're correct, but NIMBYism creates the price increases that then translate into gentrification because it creates a supply shortage. Gentrification never tells people what they can do with their own property; NIMBYism does. NIMBYism is actually a misnomer, because it's not "my" backyard, it's someone else's, and if I'm a NIMBYite, I'm trying to dictate what goes on in someone else's backyard through eminent domain, municipal condemnation, zoning laws, setbacks, ordinances, and building codes.

Gentrification creates the inability for people to access new sites, but it doesn't deprive them of existing ones that they own (that would be NIMBYism). Gentrification is predominantly a problem because you have renters who face a rent increase at renewal time, are looking for something else, and then can't find it. NIMBYism goes beyond this because it can dictate what you do as a property owner with a freehold estate. NIMBYism > gentrification and precedes it.

Different strokes are for different folks, but that doesn't necessarily extend to your right to dictate what other people do with their land. That's a high burden of proof that needs to be met.

Sep 28, 2021 - 8:28pm

but NIMBYism creates the price increases that then translate into gentrification because it creates a supply shortage.

I'm not really sure I follow with this argument at all. A rural town exhibiting NIMBYism doesn't mean that the price of it's real estate or surrounding real estate is rising. Just because the low income housing is shifted elsewhere, doesn't mean the price increases flow back to the rural town. That sort of argument really only holds if the property is already tightly packed.

Gentrification never tells people what they can do with their own property

Money speaks dude. If I make $30k/year and my rent rises 100%, it's the same as telling me I have to get out and go elsewhere. Attempting to argue that the person is still given a choice is straight up intellectually dishonest. Stay and be bankrupt is hardly a "choice".

NIMBYism is actually a misnomer, because it's not "my" backyard, it's someone else's, and if I'm a NIMBYite, I'm trying to dictate what goes on in someone else's backyard through eminent domain, municipal condemnation, zoning laws, setbacks, ordinances, and building codes.

To an extent this depends. If the local government is using local taxes to build low-income housing to either purchase land and/or use government owned land, then voters have the right to decide on what goes on there as that land is everyone's land. If low-income housing was built by a private organization on private land, then yes you would be correct, but that's typically not the case.

Gentrification creates the inability for people to access new sites, but it doesn't deprive them of existing ones that they own (that would be NIMBYism) 

Again, you're arguing semantics. Arguing that someone can stay on an existing site who can't afford the rent without going bankrupt is a "choice" is silly.

Gentrification is predominantly a problem because you have renters who face a rent increase at renewal time, are looking for something else, and then can't find it.

 At this point it's amazing how much you are trying to play with your words to present an argument. Those low income renters are looking for something else because they HAVE to, due to the process of gentrification. They don't want to, because that neighborhood is their home, but then they were priced out and forced out.

Different strokes are for different folks, but that doesn't necessarily extend to your right to dictate what other people do with their land. That's a high burden of proof that needs to be met.

Voters should have a say how local taxes and funds are allocated, because this is typically public land, not private. There are definitely private incentives to create housing for low income communities in certain neighborhoods, so it is not an immediate consequence that poor people won't be able to find adequate housing. A lot of the difficulty comes from constructions requirements, height requirements, etc. and other unnecessary red tape that makes it difficult for enough private low-income housing to be developed.

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Sep 28, 2021 - 8:38pm

Let's go back to Drumpfy's scenario: you've got a person who wants to put in a manufactured housing park in rural America. The locals say, "we like the pasture setting that we've got, pound sand." County government strikes the park idea by using permits, ordinances, or anything really. The price for implementing that project is... infinite, because it's impossible. That's a price increase from what it would be if there were no NIMBYism. The failure of the price increase to splash over on the homesteads is immaterial. The price increase was narrowly tailored on the proposed development in this situation.

The key phrase here is "their own property." I was discussing freehold estates where something is owned free-and-clear. NIMBYism is what has the power here. My argument about "new sites" vs. "existing sites" was explaining this exact distinction: NIMBYism is binding on owners and renters while gentrification is predominantly binding on renters only. I don't think we disagree here.

Let's say that we're talking about the location of a city landfill and incinerator plant bought by the city. I would agree with you that this is still properly "my backyard," because it relies upon the tax base of the entire citizenry. My argument about the misnomer would not apply to instances where government resources are involved. For that reason, I've awarded an SB.

If you re-read your last two paragraphs in the context of what I've written (here and above), you'll find that there's no dissent in them. Cheers

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Sep 28, 2021 - 9:28pm

Gentrification is caused by a number of things.  Innovations and major businesses tend to cluster in major metro areas, you see it in SF, NYC, Hong Kong, London and they bring plenty of white collar workers.  Combine that with lowering crime which has been a trend since the 90's and it will certainly drive up prices and lead to gentrification.

That is something that can't realistically be changed within modern capitalism, I mean maybe wfh will lighten the load but it's a fact of life.  However, people fighting the development of housing, bussing, transit, etc. which are needed for those cities to grow are just hurting everyone but themselves and their house price

Sep 28, 2021 - 7:29pm

I think it kind of depends on what you're looking at.  If you look at strictly the community be gentrified, it's objectively good since the local tax revenues will go up, crime rates will generally go down, and it will generally be a nicer place to be.  Holistically though, I think it's a net negative for society as over time, the poor will be pushed out of society effectively and you'll get places like slab city:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slab_City,_California

Neat concept, but not where I think the poor and destitute should be forced to live if their only other options are being homeless or living out of a car. 

Sep 28, 2021 - 7:40pm

Humans require a place to live in order to not die from exposure to the elements.

Humans can access a place to live by a) having someone lend it to them (family, friends, etc.), b) having the financial wherewithal to convince someone to part with it (lease/leasehold or purchase/freehold), or c) asserting it for themselves in some way (breaking in, squatting, what have you).

Making option b so difficult that people resort to option c creates a worse world for everybody. The unhoused people don't have a place to live, and the beneficiaries of the restrictive policies see their country turn into South Africa.

This is why I'm a gradual rate hawk. This is why I support less restrictive zoning/NIMBYism. This is why I support people living in smaller homes (look at average sq. ft. in the 1950s and look at it now). This is why I support changing construction codes in ways that may not have all the bells and whistles but are still perfectly habitable and pose no threat to human safety. This is why I support WFH and rethinking our cities which are a sprawled out form of automobile idolatry. There's so much to be gained.

Sep 28, 2021 - 7:41pm

They won't necessarily be pushed out of society, rural people exist and have their own school boards, local governments, etc., and will say hell no to anything like this.  See my post above.  The locals near me successfully pushed out a homeless shelter and tried to stop low income hosing from being built.

  • Associate 1 in ER
Sep 28, 2021 - 9:26pm

It's bad for the people being pushed out of their own communities, absolutely.

They don't give a FUCK about a new warby Parker being built down the street..

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  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Sep 28, 2021 - 9:56pm

When we move out of a neighborhood, it's white flight. When we move in, it's gentrification.

If we rise to the upper reaches of society by playing by the rules, we're privileges usurpers manipulating the system. If we decide to isolate in rural areas and live independently of society, we're domestic terrorists. 

There's just no winning here.

Funniest
  • Associate 1 in ER
Sep 28, 2021 - 10:19pm

When we move out of a neighborhood, it's white flight. When we move in, it's gentrification.

If we rise to the upper reaches of society by playing by the rules, we're privileges usurpers manipulating the system. If we decide to isolate in rural areas and live independently of society, we're domestic terrorists. 

There's just no winning here.

White peoples playing the victim now, fucking hilarious lmao 

Sep 29, 2021 - 12:17am

When we move out of a neighborhood, it's white flight. When we move in, it's gentrification.

The best option is something in the middle, both extremes hurt people.  The problem with white flight (because basically rich = white back in the 50s when the term was made) is that moving out of a neighborhood means shrinking population, tax revenue, which means poorer social services for those left behind.  The problem with gentrification is that the original residents are displaced and even the new residents struggle to keep up with rising rents.

If we decide to isolate in rural areas and live independently of society, we're domestic terrorists

Nobody's calling random farmers domestic terrorists.  You sure you aren't a part of some Nazi commune or something?

Sep 29, 2021 - 12:21pm

When we move out of a neighborhood, it's white flight. When we move in, it's gentrification.

If we rise to the upper reaches of society by playing by the rules, we're privileges usurpers manipulating the system. If we decide to isolate in rural areas and live independently of society, we're domestic terrorists. 

There's just no winning here.

Just recognize the left is full of mouth-breathing idiots gleefully choking down the loads of the MSM, stop caring what they think and refuse to play their game. I don't give a fuck what French people think about the US and at this point I can't really recognize leftists are Americans either. They live closer sure but they're just as detached from what's actually going on here.

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  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
Sep 28, 2021 - 10:15pm

Gentrification is a dumb concept.

You can't control where people live… if you make $500k a year but only want to spend $1500 a month on an apartment and move somewhere where that's possible, I don't see how you can possibly be in the wrong - you're making a financially responsible decision. If that then means you, and your friends, don't mind going to the more expensive spots in the neighborhood and would keep going even if they raised their prices 20% (because it's a rounding error to you)… sorry you're spending a lot of money in the neighborhood? Seems like a positive.

Oh, the new spots all charge 20% more because a greater share of the population can afford it? And landlords can raise rent because most tenants charge enough to make it work? Sounds like economic growth.

What's the alternative? Saying only poor people can live somewhere? Or that businesses can't raise pricing? You can't put nice things in less affluent areas? I'm not even a libertarian, I fully support growth initiatives for the working class, but seriously, keeping low-end accomodations in order to preserve the neighborhood for people who were there a little earlier? Seems like a fast track to permanent ghettos and generational inequality.

It's shitty that people get priced out of neighborhoods, and I genuinely do feel for them, but regulating market forces in order to make somewhere less attractive (and therefore cheaper) seems like the worst possible outcome

Sep 29, 2021 - 12:23am

But to some level market forces are not responding to the demand for housing, most good US cities have an affordable housing problem and this is caused through zoning, regulations, and that kind of stuff

  • Associate 2 in PE - Other
Sep 29, 2021 - 2:05am

Completely agreed - we should build more housing of all types; increase supply with finite demand and prices will moderate. The hard pill to swallow is that new housing is almost always going to be luxury because that's how you get the returns to pencil - as new, shinier supply comes online prices will fall for the older inventory, and new pockets of affordability will open up

Controversial
Sep 29, 2021 - 11:20am

All for it. Happens. It's the result of people with wealth deciding to be financially responsible and live below their means. Mots Americans are horrible with money. I'm all for it if it means more financially-responsible citizens. The poor get pushed out, yes, but they also are a net drag on society. To be poor in America you have to be: financially irresponsible, lame (physically), mentally unstable, or old (retired too soon / drawing government assistance). Include those on government assistance in last bucket.

Not everything is about money, but I'll err on the side of the folks being responsible rather than those that are not.

Sep 29, 2021 - 3:06pm

Having tons of homeless people out on the street or in prison is much more of a drag on society than in a lower income neighborhood where they can afford rent.  And yes many poor people make bad choices but if the rent is a little lower they can save for the future, get education or training, start a business, and make good choices to escape poverty instead of just living paycheck to paycheck.  You can't just make them disappear, and screwing them over is worse in the long run for everyone.

Sep 29, 2021 - 3:39pm

Where did I say there would be more homeless people? Poor people generally rent. They aren't homeless. The issue is you wholesale change the subject from the topic of gentrification... typically folks just move a mile or two away to a different apartment complex, they don't just become homeless. 

Sep 29, 2021 - 12:24pm

Is lowering crime rates, increasing property values and welcoming new businesses bad for communities now? What a silly perspective. 

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Sep 29, 2021 - 1:28pm

Most people in this debate don't understand that home ownership exists in poor neighboorhoods.  If you're a renter in a poor neighborhood, you are worse of due to gentrification. If you're a home owner, you are MUCH better off. 

Blue collar workers, who have been responsible and bought homes in a bad neighborhood for $150K years ago and can now sell them for $300K, are doing great!

EDIT: See some interesting stats on homeownership linked from the Census.  Note that in 2021 (see table 17), for households BELOW the median income, home ownership is 51.9%. That's a lot in my opinion. In these debates, I think people typically believe that entire neighborhoods are 95% poor renters but just doesn't line up with the facts.

https://www.census.gov/housing/hvs/data/histtabs.html  

Sep 29, 2021 - 2:10pm

+1 SB for your point that home ownership and renting isn't monolithic in a given neighborhood. A lot of the complaints about gentrification and the effects on renters are because of the historical racialized barriers to home ownership such as redlining and mortgage discrimination, so those are important to consider in this context as well. Cheers

Sep 29, 2021 - 3:00pm

Not at all.  My grandpa, who lives in Long Island has the same house he has lived in forever, but now pays shitloads more property taxes.  The only rising house prices would be beneficial to him would be if he… sold the house, which goes back to the initial  criticism of forcing the residents out of the town.

Gentrification only benefits those seeking to invest, not those looking for a place to live.

Second off, my grandpa lives in Long Island, but I'm laughing at you if you think most of the property owners in Hoboken or Long Island City are blue collar workers who pulled themselves up by their bootstraps 

Sep 29, 2021 - 4:31pm

So in your example is the problem gentrification or property tax? I agree that property taxes are problematic for these exact reasons and kick out old timers who just want to keep living there.  But let's be absolutely clear that this is the fault of property taxes, independent of the tax there would be only positive effects for your gramps.

Oct 1, 2021 - 3:34pm

Was JUST thinking about this.  I started thinking what really is gentrification? Nice stuff going into old neighborhoods? How do 'poorer' people get pushed out exactly? Well only if they are renting. Another reason why Home Ownership is so good. Fix your cost basis! As you said, if you are a laborer and you were able to buy your home for $200k, then you can still live there on your current budget. No one is coming to take it away from you. And maybe the neighborhood gets nicer and safer? I think if you have been renting the past 10 years, then no matter where you live you have experienced rent increases. You don't need to be in a 'gentrified' area to have experienced this. 

Oct 2, 2021 - 10:46pm

Saying "just buy a house" is incredibly tone deaf especially in HCOL cities like NYC, LA, SF, etc.

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Oct 1, 2021 - 9:14am

PeRmAnEnTiNtErN

Don't get me wrong, Displacing the poor and rampantly increasing housing cost is not the best.  But at the same time you are often left with safer and wealthier neighborhoods.  

Except, think about what you're saying here.  That poor folks and minorities don't deserve safe neighborhoods.  Half the problem with low income areas is that they're underserved by their local municipality, and that lack of public investment is what causes slum conditions.  Historically speaking, this has been deliberate - redlining is a thing, as is the deliberate move to de-integrate communities from an economic perspective.  As with everything else in this world, taking a snapshot in time and thinking you understand the whole picture is absurd, and yet here are people like you thinking that's an appropriate way to evaluate a situation.

The objection to "gentrification" is not necessarily that wealthy people move in, but that private entities from outside a given neighborhood profit from it.  The objection is that local populations spend years and decades building a community with features that others find desirable, and then wealthy folks come in and coopt it and the locals gain no benefit from it.  Which isn't to say that poor and underprivileged communities don't have their fair share of unreasonable NIMBYs, but that there are legit complaints.  Even if residents are displaced, all of a sudden the cost of goods and services goes up and so you effectively have to displace yourself in order to live.

So yes, for you, gentrification is a good thing, because you enjoy many of the benefits and none of the downsides.  

Oct 2, 2021 - 10:47pm

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