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Newcomers cause housing headaches in New York, North Dakota
April 11, 2014 - Andrea Johnson
I sympathize with people in low-income neighborhoods in New York City who are being displaced by gentrifying neighbors who can pay higher prices for housing.
As wealthier neighbors move into places like Bushwick or Flatbush, many longtime neighborhood residents unable to pay the higher rents must move. Their community life is disrupted, family and friends no longer live next door, and their normal ways of doing things may be disrupted by new neighbors who have different ideas of what is appropriate. The same thing has been happening in western North Dakota, where people who have lived here all their lives are being forced out by higher rents and an overall higher cost of living and must deal with increased traffic and crime and all the other headaches that come with a growing population. People don't appreciate it when the new neighbors try to change the way things have always been done. There ought to be more affordable housing options for people in those neighborhoods in both New York and North Dakota.
But does any of this change qualify as "violence?" Not in any dictionary I've read. I'd say it's capitalism at work. Some people are winners, others losers. While I don't always think pure capitalism is an entirely good thing, I also don't think it qualifies as violence unless someone is forcing a neighborhood resident to move at gunpoint. But Daniel Jose Older, in a piece written for Salon and republished at Alternet that can be found at http://www.alternet.org/violence-gentrification-american-cities, has an altogether different take on such things. "Gentrification is violence," he opines in the piece entitled "The Violence of Gentrification in American Cities." "Couched in white supremacy, it is a systemic, intentional process of uprooting communities."
His definition of violence is one that is popular only in certain left-wing academic circles. Most other people will find it either incomprehensible or tiresome. It's also unlikely to make his appeal any more attractive to people who might be in a position to help those low-income residents afford to remain in Flatbush. But, at the same time, he makes a good point about the damage that can be done unintentionally by newcomers to a long-established community.
What solutions, if any, do you see for the housing problems in these communities?
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