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“Where do the new residents go?”

As a New York City resident, I have been seeing the moves made by those in real estate to gentrify properties throughout the city. More so in low income areas of the city. The buildings are renovated and the rent is increased. Increased to a point where so many people can’t afford to live there. Then, they are forced to move into other areas that they can afford. But this is not just a New York City phenomenon, this is a national concern. And why is it a cause for concern? Well because it leaves hundreds or even thousands of families destitute. And where are they to move; into other low income areas. What are some potential drawbacks of this?

Like I said before, I live in New York City, but I am originally from the Midwest. And for me, growing up in the Southern Wisconsin area, about 45 minutes out of Chicago, I see it in that city. And it is something that has actually contributed to the high crime rates. When the housing projects were torn down in Chicago, people from them were thrust back into the communities. But along with them came the criminal element. Gangs and drug dealers introduced themselves into communities that already were plagued with drug and gang problems. What happened next? The gangs already established are now competing with the new entering gangs.

And this is one of the drawbacks of the introduction of gentrification. It’s what I see happening in New York City. When the old gangs are moved out, let’s say in parts of Brooklyn, where do they go. They don’t leave town or stop gang banging, they move into the next best place, usually to another borough. So if they leave Brooklyn most likely they’re going to Queens. But with Queens being built just as fast and Staten Island so far away, they move into Upper Harlem and The Bronx. So what will happen over the years to come, is a sharp rise in rapes, robberies, and murders in Upper Harlem and The Bronx. And why do I say Upper Harlem, because Lower parts of Harlem are even becoming too expensive to live.

But is it all bad when it comes to gentrification? And when I ask this question, I am not speaking in reference of those moving families out. I am talking about the opportunities that may present itself in the new poor communities. Because the great thing about NYC or other major metropolitan cities are the diverse people. If so much diversity is pumped into Upper Harlem and The Bronx, there is money to be made from the community through each other. Just think, from approximately 150th from east to west all the way up into the South Bronx. African Americans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, various groups from the continent of Africa, Cubans, Colombians, Mexicans, Jamaicans, Haitians, Trinidadians, Barbados, and Bahamians. Imagine the restaurants, the nightclubs, and even the schools.

The opportunities are endless, and with so much culture in a given area, tourists will now flock to these places. There’s no culture in Times Square, few on Upper West Side, few in lower Manhattan, even fewer will exist in Brooklyn and Queens; while Staten Island is too far away. And with other ethnic groups having people within them finding it hard to economically sustain, you’ll introduce more groups. Russians, Serbians, Armenians, Chinese, Greeks, Middle Eastern groups, and Indians. Upper Harlem and The Bronx will become New York City’s cultural epicenter. You see, in the end, poor people are hurt by gentrification. But there is good thing that can come of this move. Something that the people looking to move you out won’t gain from. And that is getting all these groups to work as a collective. Poverty can become prosperity if the poor work together. If not, an opportunity will be missed. 

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