|True Reformer Building|
U Street/ShawWashington D.C.
Gentrification seems to be one of this blog's ongoing topics. The good, the bad, and the in between. Recently, Derek Hyra wrote an insightful opinion piece for Next City titled, "3 Things Cities and HUD Can Do to Stop Gentrification That Segregates." HUD, in this case is the Housing and Urban Development department, led by Secretary Julian Castro. The segregation in this case is "diversity segregation." It is not just Washington D.C., the focus of the op-ed article, that is feeling the effect of this type of segregation. Racial and economic segregation, due to gentrification effects all major cities. In his op-ed, Mr. Hyra addresses the lack of racial and economic diversity that seems come with gentrification, what cities and HUD can do to mitigate this type of segregation.
|U Street/Shaw and Credenza Communities|
For more than five years, I have conducted fieldwork in Washington D.C.'s redeveloping Shaw/U Street neighborhood. In the last decade, the community has become incredibly diverse both racially and economically. However, Shaw's subsidized housing residents rarely interact with the community's more affluent newcomers. Moreover, longtime residents are seeing virtually all of their political power transferring to people who are new to the neighborhood.
Even though Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and Secretary Castro recently highlighted this neighborhood as an example of a successful mixed-income community-partially credited to its viable affordable housing supply-Mr Hyra feels that the Mayor and Secretary overlooked the fact how this contributed to creating a fully inclusive community. He writes, "The wheels of social integration must be more thoroughly greased to achieve better harmony and equity across and class divides." How are the wheels greased? Let us forge ahead.
U Street/Shaw and Credenza Communities
In diversity segregation, racially and economically disparate people live next to each other, but not alongside each other. So-called 'diverse' communities often remaining internally segregated because meaningful interactions across income and class have failed to materialize. As long as such divides exist, the benefits of mixed-incomes communities won't be equitably felt.
Derek Hyra does not make clear what he means by meaningful interactions. Are we talking about something beyond interactions in public spaces?
|Map of Greater Shaw-U Street|
|Arts District U Street-Shaw|
Photograph by Kathryn Smith
|Ben's Chili Bowl|
First, neutral "third spaces" such as libraries, community centers, schools, restaurants and other gathering places, that represent diverse neighborhood interests and preferences should be created with the goal of facilitating social interaction across race and class.
Second, although funding has been recently cut for HUD's Community Development Block Grant and Home Program, a proportion of the remaining funds should be earmarked for local bridging organizing with social programming that connects diverse populations.
Lastly, HUD and the Department of Treasury should mandate future mixed-income developments, such as ones support by the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, have low-income representation on resident governing councils.
These are good suggestions for fostering more diverse political representation in gentrified neighborhoods. However, as for creating neutral third spaces such libraries and community centers, blogger thinks that this point is based on the assumption that they do not already exist within the community. Blogger believes that Derek Hyra has some good ideas for mitigating racial and economic segregation in gentrified communities which can be applied to other communities, across the United States. Let us see what happens next.