Gentrification with Sociology Professor Jonathan Wynn | Connecting Point | July 30, 2019


>>>IT’S CALLED GENTRIFICATION,
AND IT CAN BE A CONTROVERSIAL TOPIC. IT’S WHEN REHABING AN URBAN
NEIGHBORHOOD LEADS TO DISPLACEMENT OF CURRENT
RESIDENTS SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY’RE PRICED OUT. CAROLEE McGRATH SAT DOWN WITH
JONATHAN WYNN, A PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY AT UMASS AMHERST, TO
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE GENTRIFICATION AND HOW IT
RELATES TO BOTH WESTERN MASS AND THE NATION.>>IT IS A COMPLICATED TERM. WE NEED TO BE PREVICE WHEN WE
TALK ABOUT WHAT GENTRIFICATION IS. A SOCIOLOGIST IN 1961 COINED THE
TERM. RICH FOLKS MOVING INTO URBAN
AREAS. WHAT IT TENDS TO BE USED AS
TODAY, NOT JUST RICH FOLK, DISPROPORTIONATELY WHITE, BUT
DISPLACING POPULATIONS THAT TEND TO BE LOWER INCOME AND NONWHITE
POPULATIONS. WE CAN TALK ABOUT GENTRIFICATION
AS BEING IN CHANGE THE CULTURE THE VALUES. THE PRACTICES OF A COMMUNITY HOW
THOSE MIGHT BE CHANGED BY INCOMING POPULATIONS THAT TEND
TO BE WHITE>>DESCRIBE SOME PLACES AROUND
THE COUNTRY. BROOKLYN COMES TO MIND. WHERE ARE SOME OTHER EXAMPLES?>>GENTRIFICATION IS HAPPENING
ALL OVER THE PLACE. SAN FRANCISCO, RENTS ARE
EXTRAORDINARY HIGH AND DISPLACING LOWER-INCOME
HOUSEHOLDS. PHILADELPHIA FOR EXAMPLE IS A
PLACE WHERE THERE IS A LOT OF TALK ABOUT GENTRIFICATION. SOME RESEARCH THAT HAS RECENTLY
COME OUT HAS SHOWN THAT GENTRIFICATION MAY BE, THE
IMPACT IS NOT AS SEVERE AS WE ONCE THOUGHT.>>WHAT IS HAPPENING IN WESTERN
MASSACHUSETTS AS FAR AS THIS GOES?>>WESTERN MASSACHUSETTS IS MADE
UP OF A LOT OF DIFFERENT KINDS OF COMMUNITIES. THINKING ABOUT GENTRIFICATION IN
A BROADWAY AND APPLY IT IN DIFFERENT CONTEXTS WOULD BE
INSTRUCTIVE. NORTH ADAMS YOU HAVE RICH FOLKS
MOVING INTO NORTH ADAMS ATTRACTED TO MASS MOCHA AN
ENGINE THERE AND A LOT OF AVAILABLE OPEN HOUSING. THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE PUBLISHED
AND ARTICLE THAT HAD PEOPLE ON RECORD SAYING WE COULD USE MORE
FOLKS MOVING IN HERE. WE HAVE AVAILABLE HOUSING STACK. EASTHAMPTON AND FOLKS FROM
NORTHAMPTON AND AMHERST MOVING TO LOWER INCOME PROPERTIES, THEY
ARE DISPLACING NOT PEOPLE OF COLORS BUT LOWER-INCOME WHITES. THAT IS A DIFFERENT
GENTRIFICATION WHEN WE THINK OF GENTRIFICATION. SPRINGFIELD AND HOLYOKE TEND TO
BE NON-WHITE POPULATIONS. THERE IS A DIFFERENT CONCERN
THERE WHERE YOU HAVE A CONCERN OF DISPLACEMENT OF THOSE
POPULATIONS FOR NEW FOLKS COMING IN.>>WOULDN’T CITIES WANT TO HAVE
PEOPLE WITH MONEY, REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOUR RACE OR ETHNICITY, TO
COME IN, TO BUY HOUSES, TO LIVE THERE, TO, YOU KNOW, GO TO THE
SHOPS DOWNTOWN. ISN’T THAT GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY?>>YEAH. ABSOLUTELY. I THINK THERE IS A GOOD REASON
FOR GENTRIFICATION. THERE’S INCREASED AMENITIES,
THERE IS INCREASES IN THE HOUSING PRICES. PEOPLE COMING IN AND GOING TO
THE RESTAURANTS AND THINGS LIKE THAT. THE REAL CONCERN IS WHEN YOU
HAVE NEW FOLKS COMING IN, SPENDING MONEY, THAT IS GREAT,
BUT NOT AT THE COST OF DISPLACING OTHER POPULATIONS. AND SO THERE ARE LOTS OF
STRATEGIES TO EMILE YOR RATE THE CONCERNS OR THE EFFECTS OF
GENTRIFICATION BY BEING SURE TO SAFEGUARD THE MORE VULNERABLE
POPULATIONS IN THESE CITIES.>>WHAT ARE SOME OF THE
STRATEGIES YOU WOULD USE? I’M SURE IF SOMEBODY CAME INTO A
NEIGHBORHOOD THAT PERHAPS MAYBE NEEDS HOUSES REHABBED, THE
PEOPLE WHO CURRENTLY OWN OR LIVE THERE WOULD BENEFIT IF THE HOUSE
NEXT DOOR TO THEM IS SUDDENLY MADE BETTER AND MORE LIVALIVABL?>>I CAN TALK ABOUT THE
STRATEGIES. BUT ON THAT LAST POINT YOU MADE
IS AN IMPORTANT ONE. GENTRIFICATION DOES HAVE SOME
BENEFITS. IT IS IMPORTANT TO THINK ABOUT
WHAT THE BENEFITS MIGHT BE. IT MIGHT HAVE BENEFITS FOR FOLKS
WHO ARE LOWER INCOME. JUST AS YOU SAID, THE PROPERTY
VALUE OF YOUR HOUSE MIGHT INCREASE IF THE PROPERTY VALUE
OF THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR INCREASING AS WELL. THAT IS ASSUMING THAT PROPERTY
IS OWNED BY THE OCCUPANT, RIGHT? BUT WHAT STUDIES HAVE SHOWN,
THERE IS A COLUMBIA PROFESSOR LANCE FREEMAN AND THE FEDERAL
BANK IN PHILADELPHIA HAVE LOOKED AT WHAT THE EFFECTS ARE OF
GENTRIFICATION AND IF IT REALLY DOES PUSH FOLKS OUT. LANCE FREEMAN’S STUDIES HAVE
SHOWN THAT IT DOESN’T — THAT POOR FOLKS ARE LESS LIKELY TO
MOVE IN GENTRIFYING NEIGHBORHOODS THAN FOLKS WHO ARE
NONGENTRIFYING NEIGHBORHOODS. THE QUESTION YOU MIGHT ASK IS
WHY. THE REASON WHY IS THERE ARE
INCREASED AMENITIES. YOU HAVE BETTER EMERGENCY
SERVICES. THE GOVERNMENT IS PAYING
ATTENTION TO YOUR COMMUNITY. YOU HAVE NEW — THE PARKS AND
FACILITIES ARE BEING TAKEN CARE OF. THE PROPERTY VALUES MIGHT
INCREASE, EDUCATION MIGHT INCREASE. IF YOU DO LIVE IN THOSE
COMMUNITIES YOU MIGHT WANT TO HOLD ON TO YOUR HOUSE A LITTLE
BIT LONGER AND INCREASE THE VALUE TO SELL IT DOWN THE ROAD
FOR A GOOD PRICE.>>FOR A GOOD PRICE. YEAH.>>SO DISPLACEMENT IS AN
INTERESTING QUESTION. YOU MIGHT — SOMEBODY, IF THEY
ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO OWN THEIR HOUSE, THEY CAN ACTUALLY TRADE
UP AND BENEFIT FROM GENTRIFICATION. ASSUMING THAT THEY DO OWN THAT
PROPERTY.>>I KNOW YOU HAVE BEEN DOING A
LOT OF STUDIES ON THIS TOPIC. TELL US WHAT IS HAPPENING IN
HARTFORD JUST TO OUR SOUTH?>>MM-HMM. I HAVE BEEN DOING RESEARCH IN
HARTFORD AROUND HARTFORD HOSPITAL. FROG HOLLOW. IT HAS WONDERFUL HOUSING STOCKS. THERE ARE PERFECT SIXES. THE HOUSES LOOK GOOD AND
INCREASED PROPERTY VACANCY RATES IN HARTFORD. HOMEOWNERSHIP RATES ARE HALF OF
SPRINGFIELD. THE FOLKS I SPEAK WITH ARE
CONCERNED ABOUT THE IDEA OF GENTRIFICATION, ALL THE FOLKS
WHO WORK IN THE INSURANCE COMPANIES AND LIVE IN THE
SUBURBS GETTING TIRED OF THE COMMUTE AND EVENTUALLY DECIDING,
YES, I WANT TO MOVE INTO THE NEIGHBORHOODS. AND, IN FACT, THE SOUTHSIDE
NEIGHBORHOOD ALLIANCE IN FROG HOLLOW IS A PARTNERSHIP WITH
TRINITY, HARTFORD AND HARTFORD HOSPITAL AND TRYING TO
INCENTIVIZE SOME OF THEIR EMPLOYEES TO LIVE IN THAT
NEIGHBORHOOD TO LIVE LOCAL, WORK LOCAL. AND WHAT THEY — PEOPLE THAT I
SPEAK WITH SAY IS THAT THEY COULD USE A LITTLE
GENTRIFICATION. THEY COULD USE MORE PEOPLE
MOVING INTO THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. THEY DON’T SEE IT NECESSARILY AS
BEING A NEGATIVE THING BECAUSE THERE IS LITTLE CHANCE OF
DISPLACEMENT. THAT IS A PROBLEM FURTHER DOWN
THE ROAD IS WHAT PEOPLE TELL ME.>>AS WE LOOK AT THIS IN YEARS
TO COME IN WESTERN MASS, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT TO SEE IN
SPRINGFIELD, THERE IS A LOT GOING ON IN SPRINGFIELD WITH THE
CASINO. WHAT DO YOU SEE DOWN THE ROAD?>>THE CITY OF SPRINGFIELD
OFFICE OF HOUSING PUBLISHED A REPORT SAYING THE CITY IS BUILT
OUT, THERE IS NOT MUCH PLACE FOR NEW URBAN DEVELOPMENT FOR
HOUSING. STILL A 30% POVERTY RATE, THERE
IS A POTENTIAL FOR FOLKS COMING IN OF HIGHER MEANS AND
DISPLACING FOLKS WHO MAYBE ARE MORE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS. AND THE NATIONAL LOW-INCOME
HOUSING COALITION OFFERS A BATTERY OR TOOL KIT OF DIFFERENT
KINDS OF STRATEGIES THAT CITIES LIKE SPRINGFIELD CAN USE TO MAKE
SURE VULNERABLE POPULATIONS AREN’T DISPLACED IN THE WAY WE
HAVE BEEN SPEAKING ABOUT.>>IS THERE A CORRELATION
BETWEEN HIGHER EDUCATION AND GENTRIFICATION, LOOKING
SPECIFICALLY AT NORTHAMPTON WHICH USED TO BE BLUE COLLAR AND
AMHERST WAS MORE FARMING.>>THE REPORT I SPOKE OF, THEY
LOOKED AT THE DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOODS AROUND
PHILADELPHIA AND THEY TRIED TO DETERMINE WHAT ARE THE
NEIGHBORHOODS BEING GENTRIFIED SPECIFICALLY. THEY FOUND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT
THE NEIGHBORS THAT SURROUNDED TEMPLE AND THE UNIVERSITY OF
PENNSYLVANIA. AND SO WHAT IS DRIVING
GENTRIFICATION TENDS TO BE AN
ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS. TRINITY AND HARTFORD HOSPITAL
WORKING AS AN ENGINE FOR HOUSING REDEVELOPMENT IN HARTFORD MIGHT
BE A CONCERN. ABSOLUTELY HIGHER EDUCATION AND
OTHER ANCHOR INSTITUTIONS ARE PART OF THE DRIVERS OF
GENTRIFICATION, AT LEAST WHAT THE STUDIES SEEM TO BE SHOWING.

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