I wrote up a half-way decent economic analysis for gentrification as a response to Annalee's posts on the subject.
Neither post tackles the economics of gentrification in a serious way or potential solutions to its harm. Unfortunately both times it got lost in the literally hundreds of responses that Annalee got to the articles. Totally understandable. But the question remains unanswered for most, what is the economic consequence of gentrification and what can people do to mitigate the bad effects?
Would it be kosher to post just that reply here without making it a standalone article? I'm trying to be sensitive to crashedpc's vision for this sub-blog. But, I'd also really like to get your input on what I wrote. If you like it, I'll probably flush it out with any recommendations or counter-arguments and slightly more research into a proper little post titled something like "I'm White and Gentrifying My Neighborhood: What Can I Do?" or something.
To consolidate, I'm actually going to go ahead and post the conversation below* (which is basically me being ignored by Annalee as she and Renolds talk to each other), so really I'm asking if I can do it, while actually doing it, and then asking for forgiveness if it's not okay to do it. Sorry?
* Conversation is slightly modified to make it easier to follow.
Renolds: @Annalee Newitz
Not trying to challenge you at all, but do you have any examples [of policies we can support]? The only thing I can think of is a form of rent control. Like maybe long-term residents can't have their rent raised more than 2x inflation?
Annalee Newitz: @Renolds
I mean exactly what I said. You asked what can white people do right, and I suggested that they could make urban policies that prevent the problems associated with gentrification. The main problem is that they are pushing low-income people out of their homes. Urban policies that could help prevent that include allocations for low income housing in every neighborhood or high-density residential building, rent controls, halting the practice of owner move-in evictions, and more.
Hawkingdo: @Annalee Newitz
rent controls ... no!!!!!! My economist soul weeps.
Adding to the list though:
1) increase access to home ownership subsidization programs
2) support co-op initiatives
3) go eat some place that isn't filled to the brim with other white people every once in a while.
I wrote this as a quick response to the last gentrification post on io9, and it applies equally here:
Immigration is a lot like forest fires. They are bad in the moment, but great in that they get rid of stagnation. The economic activity involved in transforming a place from one thing into another is always positive. Stagnation is always negative. Even when the transformation is from high value to low value, it usually does so in the form of increased efficiencies.
In a perfect world these changes are hugely beneficial to the populations displaced. It goes as follows:
(1) Low value land, houses, buildings, and businesses (LHBBs) exist.
(2) Higher value residents begin to move in.
(3) The value of LHBBs increase (often dramatically).
(4) Owners of said LHBBs turn a huge profit from higher value residents and either improve their LHBBs or sell them at much higher prices than previously possible.
(5) Former owners of the LHBBs migrate to medium value locations they can now afford.
All boats rise.
The HUGE problem is renting. When the owners of the LHBBs are NOT the members of the community, those members see absolutely no benefit from this transfer of value. Too often multi-million dollar conglomerates own all of the LHBBs in depressed economic areas. These conglomerates are the ones with the political capital to change the local municipal laws necessary to allow for and even subsidize what we call gentrification.
THAT is the underlying issue that makes this process tragic and that is the issue we should support solving. We should find ways to create opportunities for community members to own the property in which they live with the same level of subsidization we often see given to multi-million dollar conglomerates to change their neighborhoods.
Almost no one sings the song of tragedy for the elevator operators replaced by technology. Rightly. This is side-effect of progress and we accept it. What we should lament is lack of support infrastructure that helps the newly unemployed find gainful employment when displaced by technology.
So too, no one should lament the transformation of neighborhoods caused by immigration, but we should consider and ameliorate the detriments caused by this immigration where possible. Don't blame the people, blame the system that makes it unnecessarily painful.
rent controls = poop. Don't do it.
Go eat at some locally owned chains that don't have 95% white consumer base. Support initiatives to provide native residents ownership rights over their businesses and homes.