Gentrification Watch in East New York – What Does It Mean To You?
This blog is part 1 of a series called “The Gentrification Watch” for East New York. Before getting to the heart of this blog post let’s take a look at the “Gentrification Process” according to the encyclopedia.
The Gentrification Process
“Gentrification begins when a deteriorated and usually partially abandoned neighborhood for some reason appeals to housing speculators. Initially, buildings may change hands several times before they are renovated. Eventually, building renovation takes place and units are usually sold for high prices, rather than rented. About the same time economic revitalization of the area begins and then the pace of gentrification and displacement of the poorer residents and the renters accelerates….”
Now that we all have a little better understanding of the gentrification process let’s see how YOU will be impacted by the gentrification that is well on its way to East New York. Let me start with a few tips. First of all if you own your own home, keep it! Secondly, if you are renting in Bedford Stuyvesant, Clinton Hill or Fort Greene and cannot afford to purchase a home in one of those areas because of gentrification, then you better buy one asap in East New York before it is too late. If you are looking to be a homeowner but cannot afford to live in Fort Greene, Clinton Hill or Bed-Stuy then gentrification has already impacted your life. Charles Barron has been vocal and crucial in the fight for real affordable housing in East New York, but even he will have a tough time fighting gentrification as developers swarm East New York with plans to eventually build “luxury” high rises with “affordable housing” mixed in.
You’ve seen it in Harlem, Bed-Stuy, Fort Greene, etc… but when I tell people that they should buy a home in East New York they look at me and say “I’m not living in East New York”. I just shake my head and say “we will never learn”. If you own a home in East New York already, then buy another one. If you own 2 then buy 2 more. I’ve been telling people this for years and now all the news is about ENY development and gentrification.
Now let’s get to the concept of “renting”, during the process of gentrification. The big push right now throughout the city is the phrase “affordable housing”. Be very careful with this phrase because, as I always say, people can do interesting things with words and numbers. “Affordable Housing” depends on who can afford it. If my income is $150,000 I can afford decent housing but if I earn $17,000 I cannot afford much in the way of decent housing in NYC. “Affordable Housing” is a very short term concept. (This will be a series of articles that you should all follow, so I am not going to give you everything at one time. ) However, I want to make a point to explain how gentrification has changed Fort Greene and Clinton Hill and how it happened. I watched it all unfold right in front of my eyes.
After living in Brownsville and East New York until age 23, I moved to Prospect Heights and eventually purchased a home in Clinton Hill. When I purchased my home I had vision and knew where the neighborhood was headed. Family members scratched their heads as to why I was moving across the street from a crack house, into a house that needed fixing. Needless to say they all feel that I am now some sort of genius. But it’s not being a genius, it’s having some vision and understanding of where things are headed.
Every summer I would see the change in the neighborhood. First an interracial couple would move in, then a few more, then young white artists, then young white couples, then large buildings started to go up that were all “luxury”, with some “affordable housing” developments included in the mix. Then don’t forget the “Brand New Nets Arena” that was going to create these great jobs….blah blah blah. You all know the story and how the powers that be controlled the words and numbers. The luxury buildings are still going up and people who are good citizens earning a decent wage, can no longer afford to live in the area. This is how it happens. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen with a lot of rhetoric, words and numbers. Even some of those young white couples can no longer afford to live in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. People from France, Russia, China, Spain, Italy, etc… are purchasing the homes and condos. Just as a quick example, I rent out one of my apartments, and in 9 years we rented to 1 couple from the U.S.. a large percentage of the renters are from outside of the U.S.
I have no problem with various groups of people moving into a community, because it is being developed, is close to the trains, “affordable”, etc… My biggest issue is with people selling their homes when they have children who will never be able to afford to live in their old neighborhood once it has been developed. I’ve heard too many people say “I worked hard to get what I have, my son/daughter better work hard to get theirs”. This is a reality in neighborhoods like Harlem, Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill and now East New York. One of my neighbors sold his home in Clinton Hill and he has 2 sons. At the time they were 24 and 20. I was so upset with him that I walk the other way when I see him now. Oh yeah, he sold his Clinton Hill brownstone and bought a house in Pennsylvania, but I see him in Clinton Hill regularly, and neither of his sons stays in that house in Pennsylvania. In fact one of his sons is sharing an apartment with friends in Brownsville. This is how that vicious cycle continues. My neighbor’s sons have to start from scratch. Scratch is way at the back of the line.
What you should do right now is, keep your home in ENY, buy a home in ENY while you still can and while most people are still afraid to move to ENY, go to your Community Board meetings, watch every developer who moves into your community, investigate every “affordable housing” development, find out about the developer who is building in your community and stay involved. And stay tuned for more on “The Gentrification Watch of ENY”.
Are you listening?????