American Thinker Article

1 10 2008

Gentrification is Good for the Poor and Everyone Else

Professor Vigdor dismisses this obstructionist fantasy, calling it the “romanticized view [that] a neighborhood is where people are born, live their entire lives.” And the reality is that the Harlem for which people wistfully yearn is a community gone for some seventy or eighty years. It is not, thankfully, the Harlem of the 1990s when sociopathic teenagers strangled the community with crack use, crime, and thuggery. It is not the decade after the riots of the 1960s when over 100,000 Harlem residents fled for the suburbs. It is not the Harlem of massive housing projects, middle-class abandonment, and plummeting quality of services, resources, commerce, and lifestyle.

Is the gentrification of older cities, changing the model from housing for the poor to housing for middle- and upper-income groups, a good thing? Research shows it is, particularly since high concentrations of housing for the poor, a “monoculture of poverty,” serves as a permanent barrier to neighborhood growth. “Housing projects radiate dysfunction and social problems outward,” says housing expert Howard Husock, Director of the Manhattan Institute’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative,