Growing up in a middle-class family I have always thought of increasing property value as a good thing. I’ve watched my parents strategically plan when and where to move (we moved 4 times, though I was never a fan) all throughout my childhood. It wasn’t until this past summer that I understood how increasing affluence of any given neighborhood actually systematically drives out communities of people who were already living there. This summer I interned at a documentary film company, The Film Posse, that was working on a documentary about Lorraine Hansberry–a playwright most known A Raisin in the Sun. A Raisin in the Sun is about an African American family living in chicago in the 1960 who tries to move out of their kitchenette apartment and into a white suburb. As part of my internship, I worked on multimedia content for the film’s website and outlined a podcast series about modern-day housing discrimination in Boston. It was through conversations with leaders in the housing accessibility movement in Dorchester County that I came to understand rising property value as a form of housing discrimination that systematically forces people out of their homes and away from public resources. In starting to look more into gentrification for this project, I’m curious to learn about how gentrification in LA is similar to or different from gentrification in Boston, especially considering the presence of different cultural communities and economic ecosystems of the city. I found one article on Policy Mic that explains how LA Skid Row is being overrun with hipsters who are pushing out the homeless. Perhaps the most poignant quote in the article to summarize the situation in LA is: “To come in and take Skid Row, where people who have no choices—so that these other populations can come and have their sort of Disneyland Manhattan experience—is outrageous.” The rest of the article is definitely worth a read and can be found here.
One question I want to contemplate this semester is given that gentrification affects lower-income populations, how does new media engage with those populations using media that is physically accessible to them? I found an interactive map that shows gentrification trends in LA. The website explains, “The primary purpose for our website is to inform community based organizations (CBOs), policy makers, activists, and urban planners who are trying to mitigate the negative effects of gentrification, such as residential and business displacement.” I find resources like this so, incredibly important. Rather than catering real estate investors or business investors who in fact perpetuate gentrification, they are providing a resource for people who are working to redress the negative affects of gentrification. Additionally, it is a resource that is available and accessible to the public. Additionally, the website encourages interactivity between the consumer and the creator. While nobody can just go make changes to the website, they encourage users to alert them to new trends they are seeing in gentrification in LA. As I am not a housing expert and other than being interested in the topic, I don’t know of many housing accessibility activists in the area. Next, I would be interested to learn if and how housing accessibility activists use a resource like this.