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How City Change and Gentrification Excludes Some People

Changes to cities, communities, and neighborhoods are inevitable as they have been developing and changing since the dawn of civilization. Whitehead and Arieff, in their articles, explore how gentrification and city change have excluded individuals. Those from low-income neighborhoods are affected because, with gentrification, the economy rises, prompting them to move as they cannot meet the new standards (Whitehead 23). This paper explores the articles “The Way We Live Now: 11-11-01; Lost and Found” by Whitehead and “Designing a More Inclusive City” by Arieff, discussing how gentrification and city change exclude certain people.

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Most of the gentrification in cities occurs due to the lack of policies that value community input and offer equitable rezoning. It has proceeded to destroy and displace lower-pay networks (Arieff 68). For instance, Arieff states that public seating structures have been removed from public areas in San Francisco city as an anti-homelessness strategy, affecting many individuals who cannot afford a place to stay (Arieff, 67). Individuals from lower-income areas as such displaced due to the structures which prevent them from accessing specific sites.

Specific policies in cities affect urban planning, which excludes some people. In her article, Arieff states that “Or benches are removed, sprinklers installed and sit-lie laws passed to keep certain people away while policies that would help educate, house or care for those people are inadequate and underfunded” (67). This reveals that the policies passed do not aim to help people affected by gentrification but rather keep away these individuals by passing laws such as the anti-homelessness strategy that removes seats in cities to exclude people from certain places. In his narrative of gentrification in New York City, Whitehead also states that “go back to your old haunts in your old neighborhoods and what do you find: they remain and have disappeared” (23). This shows the rapid change that happens and how quickly gentrification replaces the old memories and causes damage to the city. Gentrification usually offers a new narrative for urban development.

Despite this, the inner city’s repopulation brings a potential threat for long-term residents who may face the danger of relocation. Thus, the story of decline continues in a different form. The forms of displacement that individuals face may be direct or indirect. For instance, an increase in rent or evictions as landlords focus on raising their houses’ values is a natural form of displacement. For example, living in Mexico City becomes more expensive as wealthy artists and stores occupied it. Indirectly, individuals are prevented from accessing local housing due to high pricing. Gentrification also alters the kind of services individuals receive and effectively serve their needs (Arieff 65). This can create polarization in a community as the services needed are inaccessible.

Moreover, it weakens community bonds among working-class areas, pushing people to move to other places. Others may also develop resentment as their neighborhood, which helped them maintain their identity and provided social networks, is reshaped to meet newcomers’ needs. This marginalization and alienation from the community is another type of displacement pressure that encourages long-term residents to leave. The resentment felt by long-term residents is clearly expressed in Whitehead’s article as he reminisces about the old New York City and its transformation. He states that “thousands of people pass that storefront every day, each one haunting the streets of his or her own New York, not one of them seeing the same thing” (Whitehead 23). This shows that all the spaces that connected them have been destroyed, and they no longer feel at home. Arieff argues that “the cause of such displacement and resentment is certainly not the result of bad choices on the part of poorer residents, but is the direct result of earlier planning decisions” (65). The policies which govern urban planning, therefore, need to be reviewed to accommodate each individual.

Changes and gentrification in cities and neighborhoods also affect shared values and meaning, defining its inhabitants’ place. This creates a new pattern of rising inequality and competition for resources. Increasing income disparities between the top and bottom of the income scale help diversify previously homogeneous urban areas. As a result, society’s conventional notion as a bounded locality inhabited by a single social group is shattered.

The distribution of resources may be regulated or at least disputed by erecting boundaries across a population, whether based on race, class, or other social differentiation types. Arieff notes that “policy pursued by the federal government after World War II was designed to subsidize the development of suburbs on a condition that the homes be sold only to white families and that deeds prohibited resale to African-Americans” (67). This notion creates inequality and excludes people of color, favoring Whites over them. On the other hand, Whitehead indicates that “You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now” (23). These memories connected the individuals who formed a community.

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In conclusion, based on the above data, it is clear that gentrification has become a social problem in society. Whitehead explores the change in New York City and how gentrification has altered the neighborhood he once knew and excluded some individuals. At the same time, Arieff outlines how specific city structures, which affect urban planning, have excluded some individuals in the city. Leaders and policymakers need to look into how they can tackle this issue as gentrification can be done without pushing poor people out.

Works Cited

Arieff, Allison. “Designing a More Inclusive City.” The New York Times, 103, 2017, pp. 64-69.

Whitehead, Colson C. “The Way We Live Now: 11-11-01; Lost and Found.” New York Times, 105, 2001, p. 23. Web.

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