How do you define a gentrified neighborhood? A gentrified neighborhood is one that has been rezoned to allow for the construction of retail facilities or upper-income residential buildings. Luxury apartment buildings are starting to pop up in all of the New York City boroughs, and this gentrification has had a significant effect on the cost of living within the city. Neighborhoods that used to welcome a diverse population are being reshaped into high-income areas. The process is destroying neighborhoods, and it has only just begun.
The New York City 15
Gentrification has been going on in New York City since at least 1990, and the results have been devastating to the 15 neighborhoods identified as being most gentrified. The New York City 15 (including the amount that rents have been raised since 1990) include:
- Williamsburg (78.7%)
- Central Harlem (53.2%)
- Lower East Side, including Chinatown (50.3%)
- Bushwick (44%)
- East Harlem (40.3%)
- Morningside (Hamilton) Heights (36.7%)
- Bedford Stuyvesant (36.1%)
- North Crown (Prospect) Heights (29.9%)
- Washington Heights (29.3%)
- Mott Haven (28%)
- Astoria (27.6%)
- Sunset Park (23.9%)
- Morrisania (23.5%)
- Brownsville, including Ocean Hill (20.5%)
- South Crown Heights (18.1%)
What Is the Cost of Gentrification?
When the rent in an area increases 78.7 percent over time, that area is no longer affordable to low-income families. The families that made up those neighborhoods for generations suddenly have to leave and find other places to live. Not only does the gentrified neighborhood lose families, but other parts of the city suffer from the overcrowding that comes from low-income families looking for places to live.
Many poorer people in these neighborhoods enjoyed easy access to their jobs thanks to public transportation or the small businesses in those communities. When wealthy residents move into these communities, they are not looking to replace the workers who had to leave. This is just another way that gentrification hurts neighborhoods and hurts small businesses at the same time.
The Future of Gentrification
From 2002 to 2015, the number of apartments in New York City available to low-income families dropped from 995,000 units to 550,000. In 2014, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer indicated that gentrification leads to homelessness in other parts of the city. Even if gentrification raises property values where it is occurring, it is destroying property values in other parts of the city. So what is the future of gentrification in New York City?
Gotham Magazine has reported that Mayor Bill de Blasio is preparing to put forth a plan designed to create 200,000 more affordable housing units throughout New York City in the coming years. But with the indefinite suspension of the 421a tax abatement program that offered incentives for developers to build affordable housing, it looks like gentrification will continue to pick up steam.
You can help by raising your voice against gentrification and forcing the city and state governments to take actions that will give neighborhoods back to their residents. If nothing is done, then New York City could become a place that has obscene wealth on one street and horrible poverty on the next.