Gentrification refers to the renovation of buildings in a city, where the majority is low-income earners, to attract the increasing number of people with high income and who are willing to pay more in order to live in such a place. This occurs when the high-income class views a place as a serene residential area that they should live in. An example is the Saint Francisco city in the United States that has been mainly populated by the low-income class with a diverse culture for many years. There are many people from technology related companies that are now willing to pay a lot of money to live in the city. As a consequence, there are various effects of gentrification. This paper evaluates the various effects this phenomenon has, paying more attention to the effects on the cost of housing and the way this problem can be addressed.
Gentrification has both negative and positive effects on the residents who initially lived in a certain city. Looking at the negative side of gentrification, the rising costs of housing affects the low-income class negatively, since a great proportion of their income is consumed by rent. This means that they are left with less income to spend on other important things. This is worse for the small business owners, who have to pay higher rent, and at the end, they may close their businesses as it becomes unprofitable to operate them. This implies a loss of income to individuals employed in such businesses as well as the owners of the businesses (Shaw, 2013).
The demand for goods and services in the city increases because there are people who are willing to pay more money for the same. The schools, hospitals, and restaurants become too expensive for the locals, who previously lived in the city. Consequently, they are likely to be marginalized as the income gap increases and later have to move to a certain part of the city, where they live in large groups and thus can afford housing. The quality of houses in these areas as well as the quality of services, such as healthcare and education, is likely to be very poor. Water and sanitation in such places may also be of bad quality. In places like San Francisco, there have been recommendations that those who cannot afford rent can move to other places that are nearby and may then travel to the city where they work. The problem is whether such people can afford paying the fare charged by trains on a daily basis.
The culture and morality of the people in the neighborhood is adversely affected, as the new people come with their own culture and practices that may not initially be acceptable by the previous society. There is likely to be an increase in social evils, such as drug use and prostitution in the society. The locals may not be ready to accept these social changes, but have to do this.
Regardless of many negative effects, the rental prices are influenced by the forces of demand and supply, and the best option is to adapt to the new changes in the society, rather than resist them. The members of the society should seek to benefit from the positive effects that the affluent class brings to the city. The major benefits include the increased security in the cities, as the government seeks to ensure that everybody feels secure enough there.
The other benefits imply that government develops the infrastructure in the city in order to meet the growing demand. Since many people have vehicles, the government will find it necessary to construct roads and improve other infrastructure. They will also construct a railway that will connect the various parts of the city, and this will ease the movement of people as well as reduce the costs of transport (Shaw, 2013).
Though the small businesses in the city are expected to decline, there are many large businesses that are expected to thrive. For instance, restaurants, supermarkets, and clubs are likely to increase. Other organizations, such as hospitals, schools, and banking institutions among other major institutions are likely to increase as well. This means that many locals will be employed and have well-payed jobs, which will not only reduce unemployment, but also reduce the income gap between the poor and the rich (Shaw, 2013). The increased employment in the city will also be important in supporting small-scale businesses as people will have greater purchasing power.
Generally, there are many benefits that are likely to come with the gentrification of the cities. However, a major challenge is settling the issue of housing, considering that the rising housing costs adversely affect the living standards of the people. There is a need to intervene and ensure that there exists affordable housing for the citizens. However, there lacks clear information about who should be responsible for the provision of good housing services, especially for the poor people (Shaw, 2013).
Left to the market forces, there are chances that the investors in the cities will design and build houses that satisfy the needs of wealthy people. This is considering that they only pursue making profits and not supporting the lives of the middle working class and the poor people. If the government intervenes and requires that the investors construct certain types of houses for the middle class or charge maximum level of rental rates, many of the investors will be discouraged and will seek to invest in the alternative markets. This means that the government has a dilemma about whether there is a need for the investors to charge a certain price for the houses.
On the other hand, the government may face a great challenge when raising the funds needed to provide the housing that the middle-income class requires as well as those that the wealthy class needs. This means there is a great challenge in making a decision on the strategy to use and providing the best housing services to the people living in the cities.
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The best option for the cities facing gentrification is that the government should intervene and construct houses for the middle-income class, where they can then charge reasonable rental rates. This does not mean that the government should construct all houses in the city, but the only houses the government should concentrate on are those that are targeted at the low-income class of the society. The other houses that the wealthy people demand can be supplied by the private investors who are willing to risk their money to design houses that suit the needs of the wealthy people. The government projects can be located any part of the city where the land prices are low in order to make sure that the projects do not require many funds (Shaw, 2013). This should be followed by improving infrastructure in the areas, especially the railway and roads, as a way of ensuring that the people can easily reach the center of the city, where they may be working or doing their business. This will have solved the major problems that the poor people face.
In conclusion, gentrification is proving to be a great problem because it has resulted in the rising costs of houses in the cities where the prices were manageable. As a result of gratification, living costs have increased, although there are also some benefits that are associated with this phenomenon. The solution for the housing problem is the government’s investments in low-cost housing, considering that the private investors are not willing to offer the houses that make less profit. The government will increase the pressure on the private investors to lower their rental rates, and this will help bridge the growing income gap in the cities.