Gentrification’s a Good Thing, Right? Finding a Balance Between Change and Preservation

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Gentrification is a process that occurs when a neighborhood undergoes a shift in demographics, often resulting in an influx of wealthier residents, rising housing costs, and the development of new businesses and amenities.

This process can have both positive and negative impacts on a community, and it has a particularly complicated history within the African American community.

African American neighborhoods have often been targeted for gentrification due to their central location, affordable housing prices, and potential for growth.

The “inner city” used to be a bad thing, but nowadays the closer you are to the city, the closer you may potentially be to your office.

Gentrification has led to the displacement of long-time residents and the loss of cultural history as new, wealthier residents move in and the character of the neighborhood changes.

Rising housing costs can make it difficult for low-income and working-class African Americans to afford to stay in our own neighborhoods, leading to a decrease in diversity and a loss of community ties.

That said, no one wants to live in high crime areas. We like to jog late at night and drink expensive coffee too, bring on the Starbucks.

the apollo theater in harlem

Gentrification in Harlem – NoHa 😑

One example of gentrification in an African American neighborhood is the process that occurred in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City with a rich cultural history and a long tradition of African American residency.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Harlem experienced a surge of gentrification, as new businesses and housing developments sprang up and property values increased.

While this brought new investment and opportunities to the area, (a nice brownstone will cost you at least $2MM), it also led to the displacement of long-time residents and the alteration of the neighborhood’s character.

Gentrification can also have a ripple effect on surrounding neighborhoods, as displaced residents may move to nearby areas and bring about further changes.

This has been the case in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, a predominantly African American neighborhood that was heavily impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

After the disaster, the Lower Ninth Ward experienced a wave of gentrification, as new housing developments and businesses moved in and property values rose. This has led to the displacement of many long-time residents and the alteration of the neighborhood’s cultural makeup.

Play Our Parts

The African American community has a significant role to play in the gentrification process and the revitalization of our neighborhoods.

Community organizing and activism can be powerful tools for advocating for the interests of residents and preserving the cultural heritage of the area.

It’s important for the black community to have a voice in the revitalization of our neighborhoods and to work towards creating more equitable solutions that prioritize affordability and inclusivity.

gentrification in the us

Alternatives to Gentrification

There are alternatives to gentrification that can be successful in revitalizing a neighborhood while still preserving its character and allowing low-income and working-class residents to afford to stay.

These can include strategies such as community land trusts, which allow a community to collectively own and control the development of their land, and inclusionary zoning, which requires developers to set aside a certain percentage of new housing units as affordable.


In conclusion, gentrification has had a significant impact on the African American community, and it is important for the black community, including black realtors, to have a say in the revitalization of our neighborhoods.

While gentrification can bring new investment and opportunities, it is crucial to ensure that it is done in a way that is inclusive and equitable, and that preserves the cultural history and character of the community.

By working towards alternative solutions and advocating for their interests, the African American community can play a vital role in the gentrification process and the future of their neighborhoods.