Gentrification

We define gentrification as: A process of improvement in a community that benefits some demographics but marginalizes others.

 

Perspectives

We decided that to learn about the system we needed to learn about the perspective of landlords, residents, business owners, and the government. Below is a description of what we did.

Residents

Gathered perspectives of various guests who are residents and activists on what constitutes “good” and “bad” change, what drives gentrification, and what can be done to amplify community perspectives. This helped us also learn about what drives landlords as well as tenants, and how the city is involved.

Businesses

Surveyed business owners to document changes and understand what lead them to locate in or leave a gentrifying community. We spoke with business owners of longtime businesses with loyal customers, established businesses under pressure, and new businesses.

Neighborhood

Made physical observations and conducted interviews of businesses to understand the interaction of zoning, residential and commercial infrastructure, and business.

Government

Met with City of Los Angeles, Department of Housing, Rent Stabilization Division – upcoming meeting Jan. 25th

Theory

The model below shows the variables and causal links that drive the behavior of gentrification. The variables and links came from information from guest speakers, community members, business owners, and city government officials. In the section above we describe some of the stakeholders we spoke with to learn about the system. We were specifically considering what drives a neighborhood that starts out with a predominantly low-income population to a predominantly high-income population.

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A few of the words may need explaining. First of all, O.G. is used to describe businesses that have been around for a while, and they are assumed to offer lower prices and services that long-time community members use. Fancy businesses are businesses that offer higher-priced products and appeal to a higher-income population, such as a typical health-food store. Community “make-up” is a term that was created by Youth Create to describe the phenomenon of fixing things up on the surface to make things look nicer, just like using make-up. This term especially refers to situations in which improvement is superficial, such as when street is renovated and the homeless population is suddenly policed and kept a few blocks away: the root issue has not been solved, but the neighborhood feels safer and looks more appealing.

Action

We decided to create an infographic to raise awareness of the differences and inequity between different neighborhoods in Los Angeles.

We also conducted a survey of 150 students at our school to assess their experience with housing issues and awareness of related policies like rent control.

 

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