Gentrification

NOWPOBLENOU: GENTRIFICATION AND ART

The word Gentrification is relatively new and it is linked with Anthropology. In my opinion, as an experienced artist who lived in many gentrified areas around the world, I would define it as a speculation process through which an area downtown (or close–by area) of a city, where a low-income citizens society live, change and become a rich and high-income citizens area.

In order to do that, people who lived in this area all their lives, are pushed out using different actions promoted by the City Hall and Private Investors. Sometimes they can use duress or art to change the perception of an area from poor and dangerous to alternative. Sometimes they just increase the price of rent and land; sometimes it is a combination of these and other actions.

The result is no respect for local inhabitants and the lack of care about their future and their needs and opinions.

openwalls
Examples of Gentrification on our own project and how much we were supported by local institutions

When I created the project Nowpoblenou, I decided to work hard to use art not as an instrument to increase the gentrification process in Poblenou, but as a tool to analyze the problem. To show it to the citizens before it’s too late, and a way to face the local government and private interests against a population of people who often is not aware of what is happening.

Results are clear and visible. The City Hall and the local Citizens Association have not support us but tried to crash the project in many ways because it goes against their own interests. They covered some of our murals and they rejected our requests for public funds and license to paint more murals.

No matter what, even the lack of money, this project has been running for more than two years and briefly we will release our documentary about Poblenou, its people and the gentrification, “Poblenou: un barrio en transición”.

Stay tuned and if you want to support us, please go to Donation. We will appreciate it and you will help us immensely.

Gentrification is the buying and renovating of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by wealthier individuals, which in effect improves property values but also can displace low-income families and small businesses. This is a common and widespread controversial topic and term in urban planning. It refers to shifts in an urban community lifestyle and an increasing share of wealthier residents and/or businesses and increasing property values.

Gentrification is typically the result of increased interest in a certain environment. Early “gentrifiers” may belong to low income artists or boheme communities, which increase the attractiveness and flair of a certain quarter. Further steps are increased investments in a community by real estate development businesses, local government, or community activists and more economic development, increased attraction of business and lower crime rates. In addition to these potential benefits, gentrification can lead to population migration.

In a community undergoing gentrification, the average income increases. Poorer pre-gentrification residents who are unable to pay increased rents or property taxes may find it necessary to relocate.

The dominating argument against gentrification lies in the moral obligation to inhibit the adverse effects the process can have on gentrified communities. “Gentrification is just the fin above the water. Below is the rest of the shark: a new American economy in which most of us will be poorer, a few will be far richer, and everything will be faster, more homogenous and more controlled or controllable” –Rebecca Solnit (2000) [3]

Chester Hartman asserts that a “right to displace” in today’s society is an overwhelming fact; residential property owners can drive out non-owners in some way or another. A change of residence that is forced upon people who lack resources to cope is detrimental to individuals and families and has social costs.[29] Studies have shown that those who are displaced are disproportionately nonwhite, elderly, poor and large households. Displacement forces them into a biased housing market, where they are often forced to settle with more expensive and less adequate space. Hartman argues that this should be met with a “right to stay put,” and that measures protecting these marginal groups from gentrification should be put into place.[29]

Gentrification-increased property values are a positive economic development for cities when tax revenues increase consequent to increased property values, however existing residents experience the change as increased property taxes. The increased taxes force many original property owners to either pay and stay (via higher rents for their tenants) or to sell and leave the gentrifying community. In gentrifying communities without strong rent-control laws poor residents are informally evicted when they cannot afford the increased rents. As a result, such economically limited people usually oppose gentrification.

There is also the argument that gentrification reduces the social capital of the area it affects. Communities have strong ties to the history and culture of their neighborhood, and causing its dispersal can have detrimental costs.[6] The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a webpage discussing adverse effects gentrification has on health, and provides a list of policies that would inhibit gentrification in order to prevent these impacts.