What thoughts and images appear in your mind when you hear the phrase “American Dream?” Probably it’s going to be a good home, loving family, a car or two, the feeling of success and the notion that you have reached everything on your own because you live in America. A stereotypical suburban home is a very important part of this picture. However, for many people living in the US that beautiful suburban home may remain a dream, because of the housing dilemmas that the country is facing.
One of these problems is gentrification and this is what I want to discuss in this article. Every week in Boston, you can see the opening of a trendy café, but some time later there’s not even a sign of it. People move in October and move out before July, they can’t afford it. Not only shops and cafes struggle, but also students, who move and leave very quickly. The neighborhood of Allston is probably the last place with affordable prices within city limits, that’s why it’s so popular among students. Other offbeat places in the city, like for instance Chinatown, also exist because the housing is affordable. With its disappearance, a lot of people would be left without identity and home. Unfortunately, cultural strongholds are quickly disappearing because people choose to live around metropolitan areas and don’t like to travel too far.
You can see that the bigger part of Boston is rather homogenous in terms of race, and those who don’t fall into this category have extremely high chances of experiencing gentrification. The good news is that department of the housing of San Francisco, seeing and understanding the problem has started to move in the right direction. It happened after an “anti-displacement” preference was announced by the US Department of Urban Development and Housing for residents who apply for housing that’s federally financed. The point of the argument is the Willie B. Kennedy Apartments construction that is building in the Western Addition part of the city, a remote neighborhood that suffers from gentrification. According to the article in NPR, 40% of development for seniors will be assigned from “the Russian Hill, Mission and South of Market, Western Addition and Bayview neighborhoods.” A problematic point in this equation is that the Residents of Western Addition are mostly African Americans, which makes equal opportunity for all races impossible. Even more problematic is that San Francisco’s policy is missing a bigger thing because it fails to acknowledge that the problem is deeper and if people apply for housing that’s federally funded, it means that they simply have no choice. When people do this, most of them probably have been already displaced from places that were their true homes. A more meaningful comprehension of the problem is necessary if we don’t want the real gentrification crisis to start.
However, gentrification is only the top of the iceberg and if we look under water, we will see that it arises and is being interconnected with things like race, education, employment and housing. It’s good that San Francisco started to talk about affordable housing, but this is only good for now. What about next 12-15 years?
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