Articles from the Boston Compass

MOMENT OF CLARITY: Gentrification in Boston


Gentrification is more than an intriguing spectacle that the college ­educated deconstruct; it’s not an insight about neighborhoods changing, it’s the real experience of (primarily) low ­income
Black and Brown folks, including many recent immigrants, getting evicted in the name of profit, or getting rent ­hiked to the point where the only choice is to get out ­with no more access to
Boston’s private housing market.

What really matters in regard to gentrification, is displacement, and what really matters in regard to displacement is doing something to stop it. Right now, before there’s no turning back. The shift toward action was evident on a national scale at last week’s Allied Media Conference, where many workshops discussed ways to intervene in the flipping ­ (i.e. forced resegregation) ­ of our cities. On the ground in Boston, teens in Egleston Square are mobilizing residents to create real affordability in the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s “JP/Rox” rezoning plan. One core demand is that 70% of new housing in the area should be affordable relative to the area’s current income levels. On May 11th, a crew of over 50 youth of color and allies brought the people’s mic to a Plan JP/Rox community meeting, winning an additional 3­ months for the community process on rezoning and increasing time for deeper thought on affordability and preventing displacement. Speculative developers such as Mordechai Levin and City Realty Management heard from platoons of neighbors in early June who stood up against their exclusive apartments and condos at BRA meetings. And Mayor Walsh got an earful from teens who visited his JP “coffee hour” and invited him to learn more. On the other side of the coin, a citywide coalition of longstanding community groups is in the peak of a campaign for “Just Cause” protections from eviction. High­ end housing developers pitch their destructive imaginings as “place­making” ­ as if low-income communities of color are just a blank­ slate for redevelopment. But place ­keeping is where it’s at, in this moment, in Boston’s most beautiful communities.

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