Some of the names that were given to the working class/ low-income earners are the Hoods or Ghettos. At this age, the middleclass clustered at the outskirt of the city. The emergence of globalization and internet, brought about a spin or turn around for the inner cities through gentrification. Gentrification is the re-making or re-building of the city in the standard of the middle class. The common phenomenon associated with gentrification is physical renovation, economic change and cultural onslaughts (Hamnett 175). The policy makers, the middle class, and residents of the inner cities are the ones caught in the eye of this new storm. Some of the areas that are grappling with this new phenomenon include the area of Boyle Heights in downtown Los Angeles and the city of New Orleans. While Boyle Heights fights against the coming of outsiders as a way of resisting gentrification, New Orleans has to tackle gentrification but still accept outsiders in the form of tourists. It is, therefore, prudent to compare and contrast the situations of the two areas.
One issue that standardizes the struggles by the residents of the two areas against gentrification is the fear of displacement. It is cliché that change is inevitable. However, this old message might not have reached the people of Boyle Heights. Like a bull, gentrification has come charging at them at full speed. Residents are now grappling on how to tame this bull and save themselves from what, according to them, is inevitable displacement. Art galleries are cropping up everywhere, and residents view this negatively as it will attract high-income earners and the middle class who will result in pushing of rental prices higher thus effectively displacing the residents. On the other hand, the residents of New Orleans rely on tourism for their livelihood. Through Airbnb, change has stirred the sleeping areas of New Orleans. As it is to be expected, the middle class has discovered these hidden areas. In areas that were predominantly black and were considered unsafe, the white middle class has arrived to take advantage of the opportunities that Airbnb presents. Due to the blooming of the tourism sector, displacement is viewed as a fate that will befall on the New Orleans’ people (Smith 4). Residents of the working-class neighborhoods have to contend with the changing demographic environment, albeit presence of reluctance.
Analyzing the two areas, it is clear that the situation in New Orleans is quite different from the situation in Boyle Heights. While gentrification in Boyle heights may be externally influenced and may ultimately result in the displacement of people, residents of New Orleans may have initiated gentrification themselves. Art galleries are the main reason for the gentrification process in Boyle Heights while efforts by residents in New Orleans to improve themselves economically through Airbnb is the main reason why gentrification is occurring in New Orleans. Airbnb has many of New Orleans residents improving and renovating their neighborhoods to attract more co-sharing tourists.
The residents of Boyle Heights are swimming against the tide. In their fight against gentrification, all odds are stack up against them and thus will be much harder. First, the argument of displacement has been watered down by the government policy which favors Gentry. The insignificant data available regarding displacement of people is insufficient in the development of policies that will reduce displacement due to gentrification (Newman and Wyly 27). Moreover, the presence of higher income residents will provide better opportunities for the current residents to open businesses and expand the existing ones. Consequently, the disposable incomes of these residents will grow as the rent levels grow. Furthermore, the quality of life will improve as better schools and hospitals will be built.
Looking at the two situations from a neutral point, New Orleans has a better chance of winning. However, what defines a win in this issue of gentrification? A win can be defined as the revitalization of a neighborhood that does not displace residents or erase the culture of the area while still attracting the middle class and other high-income earners. A win is where gentrification achieves an optimal integration of the residents and the newcomers in the neighborhoods. The reason why New Orleans has a better chance of winning is that the communities themselves have found ways to enhance themselves economically through Airbnb and thus they will appreciate gentrification as better public service facilities will benefit them further. In addition to the above, it is most Airbnb renters go to New Orleans to appreciate the eccentric culture and thus it is unlikely that the culture that has been developed will be abolished. Instead, the middle class will integrate into the already present culture while still leading to policies that improve public service delivery and the perceived corruption in New Orleans. Due to increased tourist activities, local businesses will also expand and thus more jobs and better wages thus making the residents winners in the gentrification process (Byrne 419). Professionalization of labor in New Orleans due to integration with the middle class can also be considered as a win from gentrification by New Orleans residents.
In summary, it is clear that gentrification is a force that many residents of the inner cities have to contend with. Most residents in the inner cities like Boyle Heights worry about displacement due to gentrification and impede the entrance of the middle class into their neighborhoods. Other places like the inner cities of New Orleans are having to accommodate gentrification as it has brought a new stream of income through tourism.
Byrne, J. Peter. “Two cheers for gentrification.” Howard LJ 46 (2002): 405.
Hamnett, Chris. “The blind men and the elephant: the explanation of gentrification.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers (1991): 173-189.
Newman, Kathe, and Elvin K. Wyly. “The right to stay put, revisited: gentrification and resistance to displacement in New York City.” Urban Studies 43.1 (2006): 23-57.
Smith, Neil. “There’s no such thing as a natural disaster.” Understanding Katrina: perspectives from the social sciences 11 (2006).