Oakland Gentrification Flash: 5 Negative Effects
1. Communities & Families are Broken Up and Displaced
One of the biggest negative impacts of Gentrification in Oakland is that long-standing communities are broken up and displaced by the process of gentrification because they can no longer afford to live in the neighborhoods they have lived in for years. This means that families are being displaced and communities with historied networks and connections are being disbanded and often forced to move to disparate locations in which they have to start over at best and at worst are forced into less stable, less safe housing options and forced to give up all that they have worked to earn in terms of material possessions, social standing and a sense of belonging and wellbeing in the places they have built a home in.
On the blog socialistworker.org, the planned minimum-income requirements for newly build Oakland “affordable Housing” options are set at between $47K and $65 K a year with rent between $1200 and $1600 a month for a two bedroom. However, only one of four current West Oakland households has an income in this range. Developers that support WOSP (The plan Mayor Quan proposed, highlighting areas of interest in West Oakland, to target corporate investors) came up with these guidelines. What has been deemed “affordable” has not taken into account the actuality of what the current residents of these areas can afford. This range of affordability more accurately reflects what is often termed “moderate income” rather than the lower income reality of the income ranges in the majority of the households. This means that the people who live here will be priced out. Read more here.
Maria Poblet’s article similarly sites the discrepancy in housing costs and the income reality of residents in North Oakland, as 40 % of residents exist below the poverty line.
2. Capital Moves From Individuals in the Community to Corporations (mostly
outside of it).
In Steven King’s 2012“Who Owns Your Neighborhood,” he points out that the two top investors in Oakland are LLCs. There are Community Fund LLC and REO Homes LLC. They bought up 424 foreclosed homes from 2007 to 2011. When taking a look at the top Oakland investors, only ten of thirty are based in Oakland.
3.The Health of Individuals, Families and Communities are Put at Greater Risk
The residents that stay and try to meet the rising cost of rent start to skimp on other monetary spending, such as basic health services. In an article by Jorge Rivas, The Alameda County Public Health Department is referenced as claiming that gentrification is one of the biggest obstacles to maintaining healthy communities. In addition to cutting coverage, ACPHD says that Gentrification causes health problems due to “financial distress,” “loss of community services” and “overcrowded and substandard housing conditions.”
4. Hostility Between the Displaced and the “Gentrifiers” Increases
ChakaZ blogs about an experience she had going into Revolution Café in West Oakland, for a reggae night as aggressive, hostile and marginalizing. The café was a historical site and a space for young people of color to hang and feel safe. White punks, who did not make her or her friends welcome, populated the café.
This hostility also often follows along lines of race, dividing the community in regressive ways. ChakaZ goes on to point out that the Revolution Café, a Black Panther Hangout, is now seemingly off limits to blacks. She quotes James Baldwin as saying that ‘urban renewal means negro removal” and wants to know where all the black people are.
Annalee Newitz’s write-up on gentrification makes a parallel between the way many people feel about gentrification and scrutiny surrounding anti-immigration, as both change neighborhoods and commercial business. She distinguishes between the two by saying that immigrants aren’t rich.
On the site, stuffblackpeopledon’t like.blogspot.com, the displeasure surrounding the lack of respect given to historical locations is highlighted through the example of the two bedrooms on 57th St where Huey Newton and Bobby Seale wrote the Black Panther Manifesto in 1966 being redone with hardwood floors and new quartz countertop to sell it for $425K.
Aura Bogada blogs for colorlines.com, presenting the disparity between the approaches to safety and perceptions of what safety means in gentrified neighborhoods versus those that remain un renovated. In affluent areas of Oakland, crowd funding is being used to provide $20,500 for four months of private security, “an effort, as Steve Kirsh states, “of people who are afraid of having our iPhones and iPads ripped off. In more crime-ridden neighborhoods, where safety is referring to the safety of lives of individuals, there is no $20,500 for private security.
Pilar Reyes, in an article in The Bold Italic, is openly angry. She tells gentrifiers that they will be met with angry and vocal Oaklanders when they arrive, and their ideas about themselves as progressive will be challenged.
5. Feasibility of Owning a Home In Oakland (for People of Moderate Income) Decreases
For those who do make enough money, have a stable enough situation to maintain that income and want to look for a place to buy, gentrification lessens your options as well, as the investors who you are competing for properties with are not fair competition.
I have been watching the local sales on Redfin.com, particularly for one bedroom apartments listed between $150-$300, which are pretty scarce to begin with. I was curious about the smallest living spaces available in Oakland. Properties are up there for a couple of days and have ten bids already. The majority of properties listed are sold for $100k over asking price to someone who pays in CASH.
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