The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Vanishing NY on Hyper Gentrification

This issue isn't all the Q is interested in of course. But when a point is this well articulated, it's worth reposting. Thanks Bob for the heads up:

Jeremiah's Vanishing NY on Spike Lee, Hyper-Gentrification and the monster that ate NYC


Bob Marvin said...

When I posted the URL for this extremely thoughtful article and said that while I don't agree with everything in it, but I liked that it made a distinction between "my" kind of gentrification and the present "hyper-gentricication" I really should have referred to something like "proto-gentrification" to describe the '60s and '70 "brownstone revival." The British term "gentrification" hadn't been imported to the US when I bought my house in 1974 and I well remember the outrage that I and my fellow "brownstoners" felt when the word started to be bandied about in the late '70s. We thought we were doing a good thing by rejecting the 'burbs and moving to old city houses. Of course most early brownstoners were quite respectful of the neighborhoods to which they moved and our numbers were fairly small, since relatively few middle-class people wanted to live in old city houses.

Of course many of us did displace a considerable number of people, especially in "dangerous" neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, where brownstoners bought and renovated SROs, but not so much in PLG or, especially Lefferts Manor. At the risk of sounding defensive, I didn't displace anyone. I bought my house from the second owner, an elderly (MUCH older than I am now) white woman who had been in a nursing home for two years before her family convinced her to sekk her house.

Kimplicated said...

With this dark drumbeat of articles about gentrification (along with the racist and classist vitriol that I'd rather ignore but probably shouldn't), I find the whole thing depressingly short on solutions. Bob's case is pretty clearly innocuous, moving into a house that had been empty for two years, and replacing someone of the same ethnic group. What if I moved into a house sold by an old lady of a different socio-ethnic group? Would the scales tip to 'okay' because she was leaving the neighborhood anyway? Or would the balance go toward 'bad' because I'm altering the socio-ethno-eco-age-onomic mix? If that case were okay, then where do we draw the line for bad? And that case were bad, what does that mean we should do? Boycott sales in these neighborhoods? That would be bad for that hypothetical lady, but would it be worth it for the good of the community? This might sound sarcastic, but it's not.

There's tremendous value in debating these issues in public venues, exchanging ideas and viewpoints and experiences. This blog, I truly believe, is doing valuable work to maintain the social cohesiveness of the neighborhood.

But I do wish there were more discussions of what solutions. I love the '20 Ways Not to Be a Gentrifier.' I don't agree with everything in it, but I still want to hang it by my front door.

It was even more encouraging to see this article about how Philadelphia and many other cities are cutting property taxes for long-term residents:
""There’s less personal investment and less incentive to stay, so cities are saying, 'Let's invest in the stayers,'" Yes! The only bad thing is that one city is conspicuously missing from the list...and that it's not much use for renters. Could we support a city subsidy for people who have rented the same place for a similarly long period of time? Or would that just increase competition and drive rental prices up even more? And would it help that much to give such residents better rent, if they don't have affordable stores to patronize? *sigh*

FlatLen said...

Kimplicated, I love your observations! Here are some thoughts regarding purchasing property in neighborhoods.

I think it is one that many people grapple with, as long term owners think about the future.

To deny the old lady the ability to sell to whomever can pay her the best dollar, regardless of race, would be harmful. To deny you the ability to buy a desirable property, solely based upon a fear of upsetting the soci-racial-mix, is also harmful.

I say so, because of older practices of housing discrimination which harmed earlier groups and prevented them from buying the housing they wanted.

So anything that reeks of it bothers me a great deal.

As for subsidies for renters, like it or not, the closest thing that exists to it in NYC is rent stabilization. Yet, the numbers of subsidized housing is falling as time goes on and units are destabilized. In Massachusetts, renters get to deduct parts of their rental costs from their state taxes. I'm not sure whether NYC renters can do the same.

Alex said...

The depressing reality is that the most vulnerable tenants would not benefit from a tax subsidy unless it ended up being a credit. Not that it's an entirely bad idea - it just would not benefit truly poor renters.