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The Pros and Cons of Gentrification

saving-homesFor many, the allure of living in a fast-growing, increasingly affluent area is an exciting notion. The rise of newer real-estate structures, increased business investment in the area, and a plethora of new jobs can create an entirely different community atmosphere than the one which previously existed.

This is a welcome change for many who own swiftly-appreciating homes or other forms of real-estate, but it is often a sort of exclusionary environment which can limit the ability of existing residents to continue living in the area.

A Realtor.com article [1] examined the U.S. cities with the highest rates of gentrification. Charleston, South Carolina came in first place, with the city’s median home price rising 77.5 percent from $152,100 in 2000 to $270,000 in 2015. The amount of gentrification that was realized in the area was 62.5 percent. The tearing-down of old apartment structures and the building of new single-family homes became a familiar experience for residents living in the area, according to Realtor.com.

Asheville, North Carolina was the second highest gentrified city during the period of time studied, with median home prices rising 88 percent from $125,000 to $235,000. The percentage of achieved potential gentrification came in at an even 50 percent. The story encountered in Asheville is similar to the tale which unfolded in Charleston: older, classic buildings were bought out and renovated into high-class restaurants and living facilities.

Washington, D.C., had the highest increase in home values, which rose from $159,900 in 2000 to $525,000 in 2015, a stunning 228.3 percent increase. However, as the increase of home prices was not the only metric used to rank these cities, Washington, D.C., came in third place.

Stephen Moore, a policy director for FRESC [2], which works to enable equal living and working conditions for all Colorado residents, is quoted by Realtor.com as saying “We are not against investment in those communities, we want that. But we’d like to see more policies that protect the people that live there now, and help them stay.” He also stated that “Many of our historical black and Hispanic communities are being destroyed explicitly by gentrification.”

Various studies throughout the past decade have debated the positive or negative effects gentrification can have upon residents. A 2005 study [3] by Lance Freeman of Columbia University concerning gentrification and consequent displacement notes that gentrification does not seem to cause any meaningful change in the movement of residents. Freeman goes on to say that of all the numerous studies that have been conducted on the subject, none have produced widespread empirical evidence that gentrification causes displacement for low-income residents. This is not to say that gentrification does not cause displacement; rather, there have not been any meaningful studies which were able to isolate gentrification as a factor for residents' displacement.

Click here [1] to view the full article from Realtor.com.