By Steve Kastenbaum, CNN
(CNN) – The complexion of some of America’s cities is changing. According to the last census, four of the 25 fastest gentrifying zip codes are in Brooklyn, New York. Upwardly mobile families are moving back into urban centers, reversing a trend of the 1970’s commonly called "white flight."
[:57] “To me, gentrification is when a certain group of people move into a neighborhood and they totally take it over. They bring in all their values and their lifestyle,” said Michele Payne, a long time resident of the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn, NY.
Middle and upper middle class people are lured by affordable prices and an underutilized housing stock into communities within an easy commute of work centers. They are changing the dynamics of neighborhoods that were once considered unappealing because of high crime rates, low performing schools and a lack of services. According to the last census, four of the 25 fastest gentrifying zip codes are in Brooklyn, New York.
[6:39] “If you own, then you’re property has appreciated. If you rent, your rent has gone sky high. Some people who were here for 20 or 30 years have sour grapes because they rent and they resent the prosperity they see in other people coming in,” said Grant Taylor, a long time home owner in Clinton Hill.
That resentment comes from a belief that poor people are being forced out of neighborhoods by the newcomers. Rising rents and property values make it difficult for some families to stick around according to Valery Jean, Executive Director of Families United for Racial and Economic Equality, or FUREE.
[4:31] “It puts families in like this weird space. So not only are families being displaced but it’s also saying in a sense that the city doesn’t value you as a human being based on your color. So in a way it has translated into what we feel is economic segregation,” said Jean.
But Columbia University Professor Lance Freeman discovered something that turned the conventional wisdom about gentrification on its head. Poor people don’t move out of gentrifying neighborhoods at any greater rate than they do out of communities that aren’t changing.
[5:03] “Generally what you find is that either residents in gentrifying neighborhoods are less likely to move or move at a rate that is no different than people who live in other poor neighborhoods or neighborhoods that haven’t undergone gentrification.”
The Director of the Urban Planning program at Columbia U. said poor people tend to move out of their homes at the same rate no matter what’s going on in their neighborhood. Those that do manage to stay in gentrified neighborhoods benefit from some of the accompanying changes like cleaner streets, more policing and better schools. Despite the potential benefits, Freeman said gentrification still elicits a visceral reaction from some people.
[6:13] “I think there’s always going to be some resentment about that type of change, because that’s their home and it’s changing and to some extent they can’t do that much to stop it.”
Do you live in an area undergoing gentrification? What do you think about this trend? Tell us about it and leave your comments.