Over the past five years I have been hearing about the rise of neighborhood make-overs stretching from California, Missouri and my favorite state New York.
I was unaware of its complexities and voice, but saw it from my own eyes mainly in Harlem and Brooklyn. Neighborhood bodegas, restaurants and residential areas received a facelift that diminished NYC’s rare, authentic and edgy look. For those who aren’t familiar with what gentrification is or even heard of the word, according to dictionary it is “the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper- or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.”
Perhaps you’re a fan of NBC’s Saturday Night Live mocking gentrification in Bushwick Brooklyn starring Kevin Hart, Jay Pharaoh and Keenan Thompson. The lingo and even real estate agents are trying to change the name of towns such as Harlem to NoHa or Spanish Harlem to SpaHa to do what exactly? Make people feel comfortable or make it cool? This pretty much sums up a portion of what is seen in the city that never sleeps.
Funny as the video seems there’s a dark side to it all. Those favorite shops you loved coming to are no longer there. That story you had about meeting your first crush at the local bodega is now a salad bar poetry corner. Not to say anything is wrong for having a health alternative business or creative spot to express your sad day–but how the business was done to grab these locations is vile. Residents are being pushed out of their homes and placed in zone areas less suitable for their living conditions while mayor de Blasio launches his 41 billion housing plan. What’s even worse are the racial systems used behind the ghastly landlords. One journalist from New York Magazine consumed his time into finding the story behind these landlords.
If there’s a black tenant in the house—in every building we have, I put in white tenants. They want to know if black people are going to be living there. So sometimes we have ten apartments and everything is white, and then all of the sudden one tenant comes in with one black roommate, and they don’t like it. They see black people and get all riled up, they call me: “We’re not paying that much money to have black people live in the building.” If it’s white tenants only, it’s clean. I know it’s a little bit racist but it’s not. They’re the ones that are paying and I have to give them what they want. Or I’m not going to get the tenants and the money is not going to be what it is. – Ephraim Brooklyn Landlord
So what do you do in this situation? With rent going up and people being pushed out or approached by someone to buy you out? For one I always say educate yourself on what rights you have. Speak to your neighbors to see if anyone has been approached by men in suites offering to pay $2,000-$20,000 for your residence. If there’s a meeting about the change or march join! Those people maybe able to direct you or give information on how to keep your place. Most importantly don’t sign or give a verbal agreement without talking to a lawyer first. Also, if you can talk to media, use that platform and voice your concerns.