Stemming Gentrification

“Any strategies or resources for anti-gentrification?” (paraphrased inquiry)

Ah! Perfect timing! Three principles I’ve devised so far:

1) Inclusive wealth co-creation
2) Place-specific integrity & fidelity
3) Increase viscosity and circulation of wealth in the neighborhood/community
1) As you pointed out, community-owned co-operatives, equity to long-term residents for smaller enterprises [1], Community Land Trusts (see the Schumacher Institute for how these work) [2] are a big piece of it.
Co-ops for housing in the Bronx might be considered a failure–I’ll need to check in with a mate about his experience with them in the Bronx, will get back to you on that.
2) Acknowledge & identify limits to a system/the place an entity is intended to serve.
For businesses, being able to acknowledge limits to growth say “no” to growth beyond their intended scale is an important step–it’s about knowing your real customer is the local community who can only afford $4 lunches, not the gentrifying outsiders who think $8 or $12 meals are cheap.
Another approach can come from charging two different rates (one to “locals”–as in directly from a specific geography–vs. outsiders) is also important. I’ve only heard of this being done in tourist cities in India (there’s a price for tourists shown in English, and then a local language price–vendors will still refuse to sell at local rate to foreigners even if you can read the local price).
You must do a lot of emotional disambiguation before the policy can make sense. There are a few challenges to this approach:
1) Ethical & Legal: ensure it’s not being done in a way that lends itself to being interpreted [and/or used] for discriminating against minorities, etc.
It reminds me of the fine line between affirmative action (which can be good and bad e.g. when applying to college I omitted my “racial/ethnic” information because the University had a quota for Asians, and I was afraid I would be considered among very competitive foreign Chinese and Japanese students) and discriminatory land planning (neighborhood zoning by income to push out certain minorities) and Red Lining (e.g. in Detroit, but also other cities, insurance rates & loans in certain zip codes set very high by KKK sympathetic business owners in the early 1900s to keep minorities out. It’s now institutionalized even though the specific racist intentions are mostly dated).
2) Current policy in each state varies:
ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council) has lobbied hard on the state level to ban hyperlocal strategies for commerce (e.g. municipalities setting local wages, putting priority preference on local workers & businesses).
I parallel it to personal boundaries: there’s a point where there are things that are not part of the priority must be discerned.
Studying Ecological Economics would probably serve your interests well. Dr. Suzanne Bergeron of the University of Michigan-Dearborn used to teach this course and integrated a lot of principles from Solidarity Economy organizing into the work we did.
The Ecological Economics book by Daly & Farley [3] was our main text & covers the principles well in a way that doesn’t get people lost in all the economic modeling.
NOTE: There’s a difference between *Ecological* Economics and *Environmental Economics*. Environmental Economics is based on the neoclassical economic paradigm for ways to maximize the use of natural resources as capital.
Ecological economics puts the entire economy and human activities into context with the fundamental rules of biology/ecology and how the environment works.
While you might hear a lot about global systems (national economies, etc.) the emphasis was really about ensuring local human communities remain resilient and in balance with the ecosystemic communities they’re a part of.
3) Increase retention of wealth in neighborhoods/improve circulation.
If you’re in the US, Local Currencies are a big piece of it. Setting them up is like creating a brand new bank and economy–there’s a lot of work and most people haven’t gotten far. I can connect you with folks who have been at the lead and active in local currency architecture though.
The other thing (not yet studied, yet to be validated) is to create more local marketplaces (e.g. neighborhood markets, farmer’s markets). I’ll need a few more years before I can speak too this topic.
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