Take Your Time, Do It Right

Displacement has become a problem for too many cities in the United States, but developers are continuously drawn to marginalized areas that are low-cost and have difficulty affording neighborhood improvement loans. Many people have noticed, and segregation has finally become part of the popular vernacular, leading to task forces, commissions, and more exposure on the effects large companies have on certain communities. However, most of the above methods have little effect on those disadvantaged areas because of the enticement of potential revenue for the local entities. Fortunately, activists with enough financial resources are starting to invest in action instead of stopping at awareness.

To solve a problem, the first step is awareness. More academics are studying who gets displaced when developers “discover” neighborhoods that were sorely lacking in business investment and reasonable educational opportunities. Demographers are finally becoming part of the conversation about how cities should grow instead of working to appeal solely to the luxury markets. Now that people are aware that certain residents are always being pushed out of the city limits while others are always considered “decent, good residents,” fewer upper middle-class people are being regarded with absolute authority.

When local government entities consider the direction of communities, it becomes more advantageous for all residents when they consider the quality of life for long-term and short-term residents. It is just as illogical to decide that some new people belong elsewhere as it is to decide that some people have been in a community long enough. Proper community engagement and research allows for an area to hold people who remember when the neighborhood was new and first developing its reputation. That same community can draw like-minded residents who work to allow the community to evolve without forcing out marginalized populations such as the elderly and people of color.

Finally, properly working with constituents and reviewing their needs and wants has the possibility to reduce segregation. Any type of integration is not possible unless public and private entities alike determine that all residents belong in all parts of a city, and work to produce that eventuality. Non-profits with resources can work with activist groups that share the vision of a community for all constituents, and nationally popular neighborhoods can regain their authenticity, which is why the property owners originally bought in those places. Shared resources are what sustains communities for decades, and many who want to change the definition of “character” have the capacity to change the current trajectories.

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