By Diane Cervantes
Gentrification is a term, that throughout the last decade or so, has gained much notoriety among the millennial generation. This process of renovating and “improving” deteriorated urban neighborhoods “by means of the influx of more affluent residents” has become an issue for those seeking affordable housing. Many of the neighborhoods that were once considered undesirable are now the new “it” spot for gentrifiers, who are displacing the people who have lived in these areas for decades. As a result home rent prices are skyrocketing, making it very difficult for people to afford living space.
Millennials place enough pressure on themselves as it is, and the fact that many of us cannot afford rent on our own deepens a sense our sense of insecurity because of this occurring shift that is out of our control. We are losing out on our independent freedom because financially we can’t live alone. It is almost impossible to be on a minimum wage and even afford a studio apartment, which in a city like Los Angeles, is now going on average for about $1,000 monthly. According to a U.S census, 1 in 5 adults ages 18-34 are living in poverty and are half as likely to own a home than adults were in 1975. A Bankrate survey from 2015 notes that 56% of those between 18 and 29, have put off a major life event because of the burden of student debt. The millennial generation now has to struggle with the battle between hopelessness and settling.
An analysis from Real-estate website RENTCafé states that Los Angeles (90014) is the number one zip code that is the most gentrified in the US. Other cities that are in the top ten include; Washington, D.C (20001), Houston, Texas (77003), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (19123, 19146), New York, New York (10039), Fort Worth, Texas (76102), Brooklyn, New York (11211, 11222, 11216.)
All these major cities that are going though this gentrification process are almost dystopian, as the contrast between rich and poor is clearly evident. Places that have an influx of luxury condos are parallel to places like Skid Row. How is it possible that a country that is considered financially wealthy, has so much poverty? It is a slap in the face to human rights to have so many new housing complexes, which are for the most part empty, when we can go down the street and see the tents of those who have no homes. Unfair is a light term to even begin to describe the undeserved displacement of those who have had their homes for decades and now have to move. Gentrification allows for those that are more affluent to move into once low-income, often minority neighborhoods that are being priced out, displacing not only the millennials that grew up in these areas, but long-time residents as well.
What We Don’t Understand about Gentrification, Stacy Sutton
Michael Hobbs, reporter for the Huffington Post, did an in-depth report titled, “Why Millennials are Facing the Scariest Financial Future of Any Generation Since the Great Depression.” (A must read!) It’s a fascinating piece that details the elements that are part of the phenomenon that this generation is living through. Hobbs explains how housing became so expensive and mentions that, “the crisis of our generation cannot be separated from the crisis of affordable housing . . . The entire system is structured to produce expensive housing when we desperately need the opposite.” Although all these factors contributing to the displacement of people did not happen overnight, there is still a chance for our generation to change the course of the future. According to Hobbs, the vision for affordable housing is possible and it lies with exercising our voting rights, informing ourselves on better options that we are more than capable of creating. We have the ability and voice to stand up to those who think we won’t do anything about it.