As neighborhoods change, some families get pushed out. Most people believe that displacement of families is the direct result of gentrification or new land development. However, the vast majority of poor neighborhoods across the country aren’t gentrifying. Outside of large bustling cities like New York, Washington and San Francisco, most poor places stay poor. Inglewood, CA, however, has recently joined the list of gentrifying cities. For African American residents who have spent decades in the community, they are now trying to preserve the community they built.
What is Gentrification?
Gentrification is the process of improving neighborhoods to bring new amenities and increased revenue; however, in the process, the social landscape of the community changes as a result of new development. Improvements in the community in the form of newly built establishments and housing attract higher income individuals, often pushing out longtime residents. Inglewood, for example, is trying to balance the goal of encouraging investment while simultaneously trying to preserve one of California’s last remaining African American enclaves.
In recent years, Inglewood has seen the $2.6-billion NFL stadium and entertainment district rise along Century Boulevard along with the construction of the $14.5-million Frank Gehry-designed home for the L.A. Philharmonic’s youth orchestra. The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles even moved its regional headquarters to Inglewood recently. New services and housing contained in the stadium and entertainment district will attract wealthier and more diverse residents from outside the community which will inevitably change the community of Inglewood. While many residents may be worried that their neighborhood has become unrecognizable, homeowners stand to gain as the value of their real estate appreciates. In fact, two-thirds of the homes in all stadium areas have higher values than those in non-stadium areas.
What’s the BIG Deal about Gentrification?
Gentrification is a hot controversial topic! It is either painted as a destroyer of neighborhoods or a savior of cities.
Some argue that gentrification is a “White” agenda where higher income individuals force themselves into urban communities and “old timers” are forced out. Although most people want to see their neighborhoods improve, they do not want to see it destroyed. Perhaps, the “wiping-out” of culture in close-knit communities is most concerning.
On the other hand, it is argued that gentrification is beneficial to urban communities, particularly areas that are predominantly African American. This is mainly because communities that are more than 40 percent Black improve much more slowly than other neighborhoods. Therefore, if new land developers target your neighborhood, it can be advantageous. For instance, Black youth are given greater opportunities in diverse communities. This is most evident in the quality of education received and greater job opportunities available.
Debunking Myths of Gentrification
Gentrification is not just a White thing! People are often under the impression that gentrification is the result of “well-off” Whites with an intent to destroy everything that urbanites have created. This, however, is not true. Millennials and young professionals of all races appreciate the attractions and conveniences of city living. In a 2009 study, researchers found that gentrifying neighborhoods are more racially diverse than non-gentrifying ones. Additionally, researchers at Drew University have found that professionals are drawn to some low-income minority neighborhoods because of a desire to give back to communities where they or their parents grew up.
How to Take Advantage of Gentrification
The true issue with gentrification is not that it harms Black neighborhoods but that it may fail to include the residents in the changes that occur because of that gentrification. Research shows that longtime residents do not tend to move out when their neighborhood improves. On the contrary, they are actually less likely to leave. In fact, a 2015 study in Philadelphia found that income gains did not significantly predict household exit rates. Similar results were found in New York City.
For African American homeowners in newly gentrified cities such as Inglewood, it is important to understand why selling your home amid new land development is likely to cause a decrease in your overall wealth. This is particularly true for Inglewood homeowners whose home values are projected to increase markedly in the near future, according to the real estate site Zillow. As more amenities are added to the neighborhood, home values will continue to increase.
For this reason, you are urged to not fall victim to displacement or pressures to sell. Understand that the investment of homeownership can only be preserved for future generations if the property remains in the family. Protecting your home with a Living Trust is the only sure-fire way to ensure that your property will not be lost to gentrification, the state, or in cumbersome probate proceedings after your death.
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