Tour Locations | A Community in Crisis: Gentrification in Woodstock and Salt River
What does gentrification mean?
Now just walk down this road.
The word "gentrification" was coined in 1964 by Ruth Glass. It described the growing displacement of residents of working-class neighbourhoods in London by middle-class property buyers. It is a play on the English word "gentry". According to Wikipedia, it means "well-born, genteel and well-bred people" of high social class."
Gentrification is a world-wide issue that has been around for a while: the middle class starts moving into a working class area, and over time, makes substantial alterations to the housing market, forcing residents to leave because they can't afford it. The area becomes safe for investment, and businesses and property developers start taking interest.
In a text called The Changing State of Gentrification, Neil Smith and Jason Hackworth argue that cities make active, structural decisions to incite this process. Around the world, policy decisions, like the UDZ, attract investment to an area as a shorthand to urban renewal projects and ways of generating tax revenue. Once the first business takes the leap, more will follow suit, and the process takes on a course of its own.
Hoping for the right policy decisions is of course not enough. Community-led political action can show that, at least, evictions don't go unchallenged. And, as we've seen, what's legal isn't always what's fair, but it does help if you know your rights. Often landlords manage to pull off evictions through intimidation, without even going to court.
Have a look at the reading list I have included in the route description, if you'd like to find out more.