Beware of gentrification with big government programs

Submitted by Quest-News-Serv... on Sat, 02/28/2009 - 20:23.

Beware of gentrification with big government programs

Harry C. Alford, NNPA Columnist
Posted: Monday, February 9, 2009 2:17 pm

 

Whenever there is big money that comes down the "pike," there will be lobbyists and hustlers swarming around like lions during a wildebeest migration on the plains of Africa. The opportunity becomes immense and the "wildebeest" are the downtrodden and economically challenged who have no strong voice politically no matter how many Black legislators we send to the state house or capitol buildings. They will pounce and we become the prey over and over again. They have made big, long-term money off Black folks since the days of reconstruction.
 
As a matter of fact, they have made big money off Black folks during slavery. Sometimes it seems that we were put on this continent to make money for Eurocentric interests. The tradition continues but in a high tech fashion.
 
Remember when they put in the national interstate system? They came right through our neighborhoods and business districts via imminent domain. They "bought" our land and businesses at dirt cheap rates and made billions from the jobs and contracts derived from the implementation of freeways. It's funny how now they are looking at the upcoming I-69 project.
 
It will run from Indiana through Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. The biggest stall is how to figure out how they can get a lot of this property from Black folks at dirt cheap rates and manipulate it into treasure for the developers, hustlers and lobbyists. There is just no way a major project like this is going to benefit Black folks en masse. It is like it's un-American.
 
Gentrification is the economic social engineering of pushing out a group of people in favor of other people based on race and class. The CBS show "60 Minutes" exposed this process as it was happening in Cincinnati during the late 1980's.
 
You see it in near Southside Chicago, Hunter's Point San Francisco, and practically every city in the United States. The best example is the former "Chocolate City" Washington, DC, the capital of this nation. When I moved to DC in 1994, the city was 80 percent-plus Black.
 
Today, it is 55 percent Black and dropping. The City Council is now ruled by whites and some of the most traditional neighborhoods are heavily populated with new condominiums, town homes and retrofitted classic abodes housing yuppies from Virginia, Maryland and various whites from all over the nation.
 
They have used big federal programs like the Empowerment Zones, Enterprise Zones, Community Reinvestment Act and, of late, New Markets Tax Credits to provide investment into depressed urban neighborhoods and, at the same time, pushing out the traditional residents and replacing them with upper middle class residents. They will level poor establishments and replace them with upscale housing. They, in fact, will build and retrofit existing homes with inflated priced homes in order to jack up the comparable rates on home prices. Why? They, the developers, can sell them at inflated prices.
 
Also, they are running up the proper inhabitants to not afford new property tax bills. In essence, people who lived in neighborhoods for multiple generations are now faced with foreclosure, eviction and ruin. The Yuppies and others move in with their high salaries and bankable credit.
 
The Shaw District of Washington, DC has gone from "Ebony to Ivory" within 15 years. What has happened to the former inhabitants?
 
They have been pushed out of town. Public Housing Authorities lure them out with Section 8 rental vouchers to be used only in Maryland or Virginia.
 
"We will provide you assistance but get the hell out of DC."
 
Those other independent residents cannot resist either as their property taxes sky rocket or they are suckered into home equity loans that are sub-prime. Even though their equity increases through the manipulated marketing, they can't enjoy it or realize the gains. They are marked!
 
Banks like Bank of America offer slick financing through the Community Reinvestment Act such as two percent mortgages for people moving into the Shaw District.
 
Those people are basically upper middle class and white and they are moving out the traditional Black residents who are catching hell from skyrocketing rental rates, property taxes and predatory lending.
 
It doesn't take long for a near South Side Chicago or South Central Los Angeles around the University of Southern California to start changing. Communities like Hagerstown, MD; Fredericksburg, VA; Danville, IL are introduced to crack cocaine trafficking and car jacking from their new neighbors. Counties like Prince George's County, MD are absolutely overwhelmed with the new residents who have been booted out of their previous neighborhoods.
 
The tax credits, breaks and incentives don't go to us and they, in fact, target us for gentrification. Our tax money being used against us is a very tragic exercise.
 
Yet, it happens all the time. Let's be vigilant as the new Stimulus Bill is passed and implemented. This time let's be certain that it is used for what it is intended to be used for: The building and participation of all of America and not just the racist and greedy.

This article was originally published in the February 09, 2009 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

 

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