What is Gentrification?

At its core, gentrification is the attempt to revitalize a particular area by using various methods to increase property values and rents. As with any concept that is designed to bring about change, gentrification brings with it pros and cons that various groups cite intermittently to advance their own causes. In and of itself, gentrification is not used to create negative consequences. A city will normally attempt to gentrify an area that has seen the effects of excessive economic depression for a number of years and attempt to attract new revenue that will allow the city to offer residents better services.

The Intended Effects of Gentrification

The most common intended effect of gentrification is to bring more money into a neighborhood to increase the tax base and allow the city to improve the entire area. In most cases, cities will offer incentives to developers to build high-income housing in a particular area to attract wealthier tenants. It is expected that those tenants will attract new businesses, and the domino effect will be that the entire neighborhood with start to develop back into a vibrant community.

Gentrification is intended to boost revenue for local small businesses, and it is supposed to spur the building of new low-income housing. Many communities, such as New York City, will introduce legislation that makes building new affordable housing units mandatory in areas where gentrification is being encouraged.

The Unintended Effects of Gentrification

Gentrification can result in several unintended effects that permanently alter the population of a neighborhood. Despite attempts to provide low-income housing for gentrified areas, the general effect is to raise property values and rents to the point where traditional neighborhood residents can no longer afford to live in the area.

Many of the workers who kept the small businesses in gentrified areas going lived in the neighborhood, and the wealthy residents who move in already have careers of their own. So not only does rezoning property for the sake of gentrification force small businesses and residents to find new locations, but it also depletes the available work force for the businesses that remain in the area.

Gentrification permanently alters the culture and makeup of a neighborhood in an attempt to bring economic stability to the area. While gentrification is used with the best of intentions, the unintended results often leave families without homes and businesses without locations. The side effects of gentrification for low-income families and small businesses can be devastating.