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The difference between gentrification and revitalization

The difference between gentrification and revitalization

The difference between gentrification and revitalization
May 04
14:00 2021

Gentrification is a serious issue where typically rich, white people take over low-income areas predominantly inhabited by people of color. They raise the cost of living for that area and drive the original inhabitants out of the neighborhood. We should protect low-income communities of color from gentrification, but recently I’ve noticed how people have a tendency to claim gentrification every time construction starts in an old neighborhood. 

Low-income communities deserve to have safe roads and a positive atmosphere to live in with thriving businesses and affordable housing. Revitalization helps these communities come back alive without forcing long-time inhabitants out of their homes. It’s important to understand the difference because blindly lashing out at people making improvements for the communities who need it most will deter others from trying to help in the future. 

In Texas, we’re currently experiencing both gentrification and revitalization in different areas. Iconic neighborhoods like Deep Ellum are being reconstructed to fit into the modern world of expensive high-rise apartments and cookie-cutter cafes and boutiques on well-lit streets. Deep Ellum is an example of gentrification, not revitalization. Small businesses are being forced out due to the high cost of operating and communities of color are being pushed back into the suburbs surrounding Dallas. 

Another neighborhood experiencing gentrification in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is Historic Downtown Carrollton. In the area surrounding Downtown Carrollton, there are empty fields where low-income apartments used to be. Families were forced to leave as the city planned a $300 million dollar gentrification project. Small businesses were pushed out then replaced with expensive apartments and parking garages.

One example of successful revitalization is The Frazier neighborhood in South Dallas near Fair Park. The neighborhood is part of the Frazier Revitalization, an independent 501(c)(3), non-profit organization specifically for creating a mixed-income community that integrates current residents with new residents. 50 percent of residents in The Frazier neighborhood are living under the poverty line with 51 percent unemployment in residents of working age. 

To combat these challenges, the Frazier Revitalization is providing an abundance of resources to help residents. Public transportation is accessible with a DART train running through the city, and the Parkland Hatcher Station Health Center — located at the train station — provides affordable care for low-income residents. Legal assistance is offered to The Frazier neighborhood by the UNT Dallas College of Law Community Lawyering Center

Instead of taking over the neighborhood, the Frazier Revitalization is working to provide resources to low-income residents and bring them out of poverty by opening new businesses. 

Downtown Denton is another product of revitalization instead of gentrification. The Denton Main Street Association, a 501(c) 6 non-profit member organization that is a part of the City of Denton’s Economic Development Department, is responsible for preserving the history of Downtown Denton while keeping businesses alive and residents employed.

Revitalization is a positive approach to fighting systemic inequality and moving towards an anti-racist society. Gentrification has displaced countless communities of color and restricted their access to important opportunities and resources. There is a fine line between the two and that line is integrity. 

Corporations will always care more about earning a profit, so it’s up to the consumers to demand change by taking action. If they only care about money, don’t spend your money in gentrified areas. Visit a revitalized area and let your financial support speak for you. If the masses aren’t flocking to the gentrified areas, the corporations would be forced to listen to the consumer. 

In the age of corporate social justice, consumers are being more conscious of where their money is going and who they are supporting with their purchases. Corporations should be investing in revitalization efforts instead of gentrification and society can lead them there.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Shelby Stevens

Shelby Stevens

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