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What is gentrification?

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What is gentrification?

Gentrification of an area usually occurs with at first a "pioneer group" of lower-income professionals (eg teachers and social workers) moving into an inner-city area to search for cheap Victorian/Edwardian properties to renovate.

The process by which some run-down areas of cities become transformed when middle and high-class professionals move in. It is another way of describing a way of improving the inner city, but cannot be planned. It occurs when market forces and changing fashions affect people.

It occurs in several important stages everywhere:

  1. A 'pioneer group' moves in first. These people are low income professionals and they move into an area for cheap house prices. As in London docklands, house renovation was also needed which these people could afford. They tend to be young and although they have no children, want to be near the city centre for improved access to their jobs.
  2. This group will start to improve the environmental and building quality because they want to live in an attractive area. Group specific services started to flourish in docklands (e.g. wine bars, delicatessens)
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2) Attractive older housing. This is important because it is often an important 'pull' factor for people because if they cannot afford attractive older housing where they live currently, they will look elsewhere for it. People who are willing to move will do it because it will improve their standard of living. In general, people will not move to an area with bad housing because it will be an unpleasant place to live.

3) Proximity to good transport links. This is also important since when people move away from an area which is very close to their place of work, to a more distant location, they would still want to get to work easily. If transport links are nearby it will minimize any extra and unnecessary commuting time

The factors which prevent gentrification:

1) High crime rate. Crime rate is very important as a factor to deter gentrification because people do not want to move from an area in which they are safe, to one where they might suffer muggings or burglaries. People also view crime rate as an indicator to show the quality of atmosphere of the area and as an indicator to see how deprived and area is.


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Physical changes also accompany gentrification. Older buildings are rehabilitated and new construction occurs. Public improvements — to streets, parks, and infrastructure — may accompany government revitalization efforts or occur as new residents organize to demand public services. As a result new arrivals often demand to improve the district and may change standards through their own guidelines, historic preservation legislation and use of laws.  

The social, economic, and physical impacts of gentrification often result in serious political conflict, worsened by differences in race, class, and culture. Earlier residents may feel tormented, ignored, and excluded from their own communities. Therefore new arrivals are bombarded with accusations that their efforts to improve local culture are taken as hostile and even racist.

Change — in fortunes, in populations, in the physical fabric of communities — is an abiding feature of urban life. But change nearly always involves winners and losers, and low-income people are rarely the winners. The effects of gentrification vary widely with the particular local circumstances. Residents, community development corporations, and city governments across the country are struggling to manage these inevitable changes to create a win-win situation for everyone involved.

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