Community Land Trusts

Jane Jacobs believed that when planning and developing a city, the “character and liveliness” of the city had to be preserved (Zukin 220).  However, the type of environment that Jacobs was acquainted with has changed and, therefore, her conclusions should be reimagined. Jacobs knew cities as “urban villages”.  However, they have grown into cultural competition zones with “Destination Cultures” (Zukin 244). The cities with destination culture are built with money in mind. For example, large projects such as New York City Waterfalls by Olafur Eliasson gained $69 million dollars in just one year (Zukin 234).  This competing culture is apparent in not just large scale projects, but in everyday life including with housing. People with a low-economic status have to deal with raising rents as competing culture increases the value and cost of a surrounding neighborhood. One way to counteract this is through community land trusts.

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Gentrification and Displacement

When googling “gentrification and displacement” the first article to show up cites studies which demonstrate the complicated link between gentrification and displacement.  These include studies that show that income gains do not significantly predict household exit rates, that only 6 to 10 percent of moves in New York City is due to displacement, that poverty levels can decrease dramatically without gentrification, and that gentrification can lead to higher racial, income, and educational diversity.  It also includes studies that demonstrate that 23% of residents in 5 major cities were displaced due to eviction, rent increases, or the selling of the house they rented, and that the poorest people in gentrifying neighborhoods are stuck there because moving is too costly (Florida). This article might seem somewhat biased due to the larger amount of cited studies that mitigate the negative aspects of gentrification, and I would argue that this is true since the author of this article is Richard Florida, who is an urbanist who gets paid by cities to turn their land into hubs for the creative class, which inherently gentrifies these cities.
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Affordable Housing and its Issues in New York

Williamsburg is a site for gentrification.  This processes had been accelerated by the Bloomberg administration who, with the City Council, ignored a proposal by Jane Jacobs with the wellness of the current residents of people in mind.  Bloomberg ignored Jacobs’s suggestions to not destroy manufacturing jobs or to not create housing in the area that current residents could afford. The City Council created waterfront and luxury housing in large buildings which replaced factories and warehouses (Zukin 59).  By doing this the area gentrified: real estate upscaled and rents increased which displaced residents. The process of gentrification is not always catalyzed by city officials. It is a natural process caused by the socio-economic system with many positive and negative effects.  To counteract the negative effect of displacement, New York has received federal funding to create public and affordable housing. In doing so, poor and current residents of gentrifiable neighborhoods stand a chance to keep their rents low. To incentivise the building of affordable housing, tax subsidies are offered to developers if 20% of their housing were affordable rental apartments. Continue reading “Affordable Housing and its Issues in New York”

New York’s Neoliberal and Real Estate Past

Richard Florida was a neoliberal who believed that the economic driving force in cities was the creative-class who craved technology, talent, and social tolerance (Tochterman 75).  This theory had many encouraging ideas such as that the creative working class was an important part of the economy and that whites, gays, minorities, and all other peoples should be integrated, not segregated.  However, his theory lacked a way to enhance the economic standing and workplace freedom of the people serving creative elites.  This was a major issue since the wealth gap was increasing during this time period and since the creative-class was obsessed with consumerism (Tochterman 78).  This obsession eventually translated into overpriced housing and rents in neighborhoods that eventually no one could afford.  Many of these neighborhoods began with urban renewal schemes that were created such that private companies took profits while the state took the risk.  These renewal programs increased the prices in the areas such that poor residents were displaced and lost both jobs and homes.  In the 1970s, the neoliberal real estate sector and state allowed for this abasement to occur to an extreme.  During the 1970s, the industrialization of Asia and Latin America drew money from the globalized New York City (Angotti 75).  This hurt the local economy, and people stopped paying their rents.  These rents were already very high because of New York’s grossly overdeveloped land, which already deprived people’s quality of life.  It was even worse since, unlike during the New Deal, the government did not want to help.  In fact, President Gerald Ford famously told the city to “drop dead”, implying that New York should go through a contraction phase regardless that its people were suffering. Continue reading “New York’s Neoliberal and Real Estate Past”

Robert Moses and His Effects on New York

“When Moses yields, God must be near at hand” (Ballon and Jackson 75).  Robert Moses was a public official who organized and planned public works.  These included the Triborough bridge, Verrazano bridge, Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and Lincoln Center.  Moses was known for his productive, persistent, and insensitive nature.  He was a powerful character that catalyzed change in New York’s layout for decades in the 20th century.  Moses was the chairman of the Mayor’s Committee on Slum Clearance.  As chairman, he acted under Title 1 from 1949 to 1960.  Under this law, Moses gained New York $65.8 million to spend on removing slums (Ballon 16).  Moses and many urban planners believed that slums negatively affected a city as a whole since people did not have as many resources as they should and since the upkeep of the people in slums was greater than the taxes these people paid.  Moses used his position and his persistence to make deals with private companies to tear down and rebuild slums including housing and apartment buildings.  Moses and urban planners at this time believed that “large-scale clearance, replanning, and private redevelopment” was the only way to remove slums (Ballon 21).  In doing these large-scale projects, people in these areas had to be displaced.  As chairman, Moses was obligated to observe the movements of these people and he or the companies he worked with were to find the people housing in other areas.  However, Moses did not care much for these displaced people as he only cared about the city as a whole and not individual neighborhoods.  Usually, less than 15% of people who were displaced stayed in public housing and the average rent of these people increased greatly.  Also, new slums were being created from these displaced people who could not afford housing in prominent areas.  These people caused crowding in surrounding areas as well.  This lack of care and harsh treatment caused public backlash which Moses responded to, doubling down on his own principles, and mostly ignoring the cries of the people. Continue reading “Robert Moses and His Effects on New York”