Most cities around the world are struggling with numerous challenges, and one big threat in these cities is inadequate planning, which also results in sprawl, clogged traffic, and a shortage of small industries to help communities be multi-functional and efficient. This paper reflects on the gentrification epidemic that is affecting Boston neighborhoods such as Roxbury. The paper will explore the different problems and needs that must be resolved in order to solve the problem.
To date, no systemic structure in Boston has been developed to solve the gentrification crisis, which continues to be a source of concern in high-risk communities such as Roxbury (Jennings 7). Gentrification alludes to different things depending on the focus of individuals, the new local investment, increase in home prices or rents and mix in ethnicity. Conclusively, it can be defined as revitalization and reinvestment that leads to a relatively sharp increase in rents and home-values in most low and moderate-income urban areas (Palen and London 91). In the end, there is displacement of individuals in a place (Henig 641). However, when the residents are in a position to reap benefits of the surge in home values, education levels, and incomes while at the same time accessing lower loan delinquency rates and improved credit scores then it is just but good community development. A neighborhood is resolved to gentrify when it is situated in the focal city of a metropolitan range and it goes from being in the last 50% of the conveyance of home costs in the metropolitan region to the upper half portion (Freeman and Braconi 41). Utilizing this standard, it is probably no less than a fourth of the inhabitants in Boston have encountered gentrification subsequently making it one of the quickest gentrifying city in the U.S. At the point when gentrification happens, the nearby neighborhood endures and for this situation, Roxbury endures the impacts of gentrification. Truth be told, the housing costs are at unsurpassed high and the 2010 evaluation demonstrates that following quite a while of level populace and housing development, Roxbury has included more than 2,200 new housing units and 6,970 new inhabitants including 4,400 more white occupants. On the off chance that this pattern is not checked, the post-gentrification Roxbury may wind up losing about 10,000 African-American and Latino households and wind up picking up around 8,100 white households. This implies toward the end, Roxbury would be possessed essentially by the whites.
Nonetheless, the gentrification problem can properly be solved when different policy initiatives are put in place. Having the right policies in place will result in community stabilization. Some of the policies include smart growth and equitable investments in the at-risk neighborhoods in Boston.
To mitigate the problem, the first issue is to carry out a strategic assessment of the situation at hand. Assessment is critical as it helps a community to figure out what is taking place and at the same time provide a baseline of information that the communities can then use to compare their set goals. The best time to start dealing with the issues of displacement is at the start of community renewal efforts. Most of the communities, often wait for the time when the individuals with least incomes start facing eviction or when indigenous businesses and service organizations cannot anymore afford rent in their neighborhood. The assessment has to include community mapping efforts that help in identification of renter-to-homeowner rates, the affordability indices and the analysis in regards to race and poverty. Nonetheless, the assessment needs to meet the needs of a given situation.
Building of Middle-Income Housing
To solve the problem, there is a need for the area people to build middle-income houses. Most of the middle-income households currently are not wealthy enough to rent or even buy in Roxbury. The cost of constructing new homes is at $550,000 and this means that one needs to have an income of $150,000 for them to buy. Also, the city is selling the remaining few vacant spaces to developers to construct middle-income houses though this is insufficient to help in the prevention of displacement. There is need to have in place a very aggressive middle-income housing production program that incorporates the investment of city subsidies. The city has to ensure that it avoids investing in the low-income housing schemes (Atkinson 315).
Reduction or Freezing of Property Taxes
Having the option of reducing or freezing the property taxes will help in protecting the long-time residents. Most of the cities look at the tax programs that ensure retaining of long-time homeowners in at-risk environments. A case in point is Boston passing of a bill to allow the homeowners who have had a growth of taxes by 10 percent or more to defer property tax payments up to the time they sell. This then means that there is need to have the approval of the state legislations (Martin and Beck 23).
Protection of Senior Homeowners
In Boston, the primary issue that is emerging is that low and moderate-wage seniors are offering as they have been not able bear the cost of the ascent in property taxes in about all the gentrifying neighborhoods and the upkeep for their homes stay high. There is a requirement for the city to guarantee an expansion in subsidizing for the current home repair programs and the projects need gentrifying neighborhoods as top in their need list. Likewise, for the present property tax deferral that is accessible for Boston seniors who get wage under $55,000 should be legitimately promoted in the gentrifying territories. There is have to think of a reward conspire for the seniors who live in 2-and 3-family homes in at-hazard territories. The reward plan is a direct result of keeping rents moderate.
Forbid the Large-Scale Luxury Development.
In the in at-risk places, there is need to prohibit the large-scale luxury development. One of the known reasons for the displacement is the development of high-cost housing in large numbers (Henig 645). Boston needs to promote the small and medium scale as well as the mixed-income development in most of the at-risk neighborhoods such as Roxbury. There is need also to discourage development in large numbers of units at the current market rates.
Design a Stabilization Voucher
There is a need for the federal government to come up with the new type of housing voucher that has to be awarded to long-time residents of low-income communities. Having this will ensure that the residents can stay even when gentrification seems to be a risk. It is referred to as a stabilization voucher given that it has the capacity to retain the low-income residents and help in stabilizing the communities by avoiding any possible displacement.
Change Fair Housing Rules
For the federal government to provide resources unduly in most of the majority-minority neighborhoods, they need to rewrite the fair housing rules. Having the traditional housing rules in place can help individuals to discourage equitable investment in most of the at-risk neighborhoods, depending on the policies that discourage existence of poverty and accept movement of persons to the suburban “opportunity communities”. Having fair housing will ensure that there is the affirmative promotion of equitable investment in the urban opportunity communities.
Making it Cheaper to Build More Housing
The Metro Area Planning Council requires that 14,000 units be built every year to ensure that the rising demand for houses in metro Boston is addressed. Even though there is a target, the production attained has just been from 4,000 to 9,000 units. Therefore, there is need to come up with long-term strategy of meeting the demand and ceasing gentrification which is to make it route less demanding to fabricate more houses in Boston and the area. The working of new extravagance housing can without much of a stretch help in meeting this objective though the advancements need to target the vast majority of the high-cost ghettos in Boston such as Beacon Hill, Seaport, and Back Bay.
Inclusion of Community in Planning Process
Before taking off with the plans too far, there is a need for every stakeholder in the community to be included in the planning process. Inclusion ensures that the developers respect the goals and priorities of the community. Therefore, this area needs to take into consideration the manner in which information is transmitted to the communities and the way individuals communicate their issues. Always, every other group has a different way of communication. For instance, if a group is internet savvy, then the communication has to be internet oriented. However, in areas where the community is relationship-based then one has to walk manually and visit the persons and communicate.
Learn the way planning and development works
For the development to take place in the community, it is critical that the community learns how to shape their development and this can happen through Registered Community Organization (RCO) (Anguelovski 12). RCO is a registered community organization that has the mandate to review the different developments that vary according to zones. In areas where RCO do not reach out the community, there is need to ensure that there is a vital role of inclusivity being played. For instance, in West Philadelphia, when the RCOs worked together, they could easily slow down Drexel University and reality trust company from redeveloping a 14-acre parcel of land that they had gotten from the School District of Philadelphia. Slowing them meant that they had to spare time and talk to the community and get to hear the concerns and priorities of the community around the place. Having appropriate social programs for the community is critical in ensuring that the residents gain constructive knowledge that can help in shaping the development and influence of policymakers.
Application of Policy Tools
To check gentrification, there is have to utilize strategy apparatuses that are accessible to secure the inhabitants and eventually guarantee differing qualities. Having a consistent supply of reasonable housing is basic in guaranteeing that regions encountering gentrification stay assorted. Housing should be put in groups that are resource rich and don’t should be off the beaten path. On the off chance that a group can think of its own arrangement, the arrangement can then be tabled in occurrences where large-scale redevelopment is proposed and afterward utilize it as an apparatus for designers to arrange. The presence of open housing can help and it should help in the protection of moderateness in zones that are encountering gentrification (Zuk et al., 31). Federal arrangements, for example, Low-Income Housing Tax Credit can likewise be utilized as a part of the conservation of the housing assorted qualities. A portion of the essential federal approaches that should be tended to fundamentally respected the salary disparity and furthermore needs to attach to the work strategy particularly a higher the lowest pay permitted by law.
Stabilization of Existing Renters
The Boston community can effectively ensure that it assess the displacement rates, come up with emergency funds meant for rental assistance, do away with the various discriminatory barriers that the renters face or even come up with rent stabilization policies like the eviction controls and rent increase schedules (Marcuse 195). Additionally, in instances where there are limited-equity housing cooperatives and other types of resident-controlled housing, the neighborhood can then be allowed to stabilize by turning some sections of renters to homeowners. Having co-operatives that run democratically allows the members also to play critical roles in the development of their neighborhood. Additionally, the building and preservation of the affordable housing can include all the three major sectors: the nonprofit-owned, the public sector and the private housing with long-term affordability limitations. Having legal-mechanisms that ensure long-term affordability is critical in the preservation of the public investment in housing and take properties out of the commercial market for some time (Zuk et al., 46).
Apart from the policy discussions that concern gentrification, there is need to have a conversation that touches on the issues of power and race that led to inequity development and made the gentrification a possibility. Roxbury has its vision and strategy of stabilizing the community and changing the balance of power and ultimately transferring equity to tenants, homeowners and businesses. Thus, from the discussion when the community begins by assessment as a mitigation method then it is likely to succeed. Assessment is critical as it helps a community to figure out what is taking place and at the same time provide a baseline of information that the communities can then use to compare their set goals. The other critical solution discussed is a reduction or freezing the property taxes will help in protecting the long-time residents. Most of the cities look at the tax programs that ensure retaining of long-time homeowners in at-risk environments. Also, there is a need for the area people to build middle-income houses. Most of the middle-income households currently are not wealthy enough to rent or even buy in Roxbury. Important enough for the process is to ensure that before taking off with the plans too far, every stakeholder in the community is included in the planning process. Inclusion ensures that the developers respect the goals and priorities of the community.
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