Gentrification is defined as ‘the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper-or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses.’ The term gentrification derives from the verb gentrify which means to ‘renovate and improve so that it conforms to middle-class tastes.’ Additionally, the word gentrify derives from the word gentry which is the noble class or upper class of England. Hence, according to the definition and etymology of the word, “gentrification” means that these actions benefit only the “nobility”, rich, or upper class. Contrary to popular belief, gentrification creates economic opportunities in urban neighborhoods that could potentially benefit the totality of the lower and middle classes alike.
What Opportunities Does Gentrification Bring?
Gentrification, if left to the resource allocation of the free market, can create more jobs than any municipal governmental program. This is because new infrastructural developments of residential and commercial properties create job opportunities, depending on one’s relative educational qualification or skill level. Developments need architects, contractors, developers, property managers, and landscapers in order for these projects to become built.
These aforementioned positions are blue collared jobs typically designated for the middle class and subsequently this group of people consists of the majority of the population. Additionally, once these buildings are erected, businesses such as restaurants, nightclubs, pubs, corporate headquarters, accounting offices, law firms, etc., are housed in these developments. These businesses create job opportunities for college graduates who have the qualifications for white collared positions and additionally for citizens of the lower class who consequently have the option to become janitors, security guards, cashiers, waiters, waitresses, chefs, bar tenders, secretaries, etc.
Additionally, “gentrification” leads to the creation of residential complexes and condominiums that usually require security guards, doormen, landscapers, and other positions that don’t require a complexity of skills and education. Moreover, the residents of these communities, some of whom are “hipsters”, may need personal grooming such as a haircut. Therefore, anyone with an inclination and specialization in cosmetology has an opportunity to makes ends meet in a “gentrified” community. Accordingly, barbershops and hair salons need sweepers or janitors to maintain and sanitary and presentable business, thus introducing an opportunity for lower class citizens without certifications, licenses, or degrees to generate additional income.
Concomitantly, businesses, tenants, and property owners usually need plumbers or contractors for the maintenance, repair, and renovation of their properties regardless of whether they are residential or commercial. Thus, for someone with mechanical skills, this presents an additional opportunity to economically prosper. Hence, there are an infinite amount of entrepreneurial and employment opportunities brought upon by gentrification if one is willing to look for them and apply their relative skills, specializations, education, and ambition to be productive.
The Myths of Gentrification
The aforementioned myth of gentrification is implicit in its root word which is “gentry” which denotes that the gentrification process benefits the aggregate of people “noble” or of the “upper class”, when we have proven that this process opens a multiplicity and plurality of job opportunities for people transcending class, education, and dexterity. Further, many of the tenants or residents of gentrified communities are struggling college students in student loan debt who live conveniently in close proximity to their universities. Additionally, tenants and residents include fledgling entrepreneurs and employees who live in close proximity to their headquarters or jobs and who are looking to survive economically in developing and robust communities with a prodigious selection of activities ranging from the artistic and nightlife scenes.
Moreover, the urban myth regarding gentrification is that it causes displacement for residents when in actuality the displacement rate is marginally small. For example, there’s only a 1.3% probability of households being displaced in New York City due to gentrification and according to another statistic, 6-10% of households are displaced due to gentrification.
In conclusion, there are a multitude of free market opportunities that gentrification brings to a city and if one wants to capitalize on them, then one needs to apply for a job or create a business that adapts to the clientele of “hipsters” in these revitalized communities. On the other hand, if one is in the minority of persons that is “displaced”, then find an alternative community to live in, or work more strategically and diligently to grow your income and enhance your affordability to live in a “gentrified” community because the opportunities in “gentrified” communities are endless.
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