Project Space


Gentrification: Boyle Heights

Currently in the community of Boyle Heights, gentrification has become more of an issue than seen in a positive way. Many communities in Los Angeles are experiencing changes as some see benefits and others see a sense of lost. The original purpose of gentrification is to improve communities from old to new resources. As a result the lower class has moved out as the upper-middle class move in. Gentrification is being put upon low-income communities at risk as cost of living is raised and prompts a lifestyle change. The idea of gentrification was never a bad idea, but with the ways things are runned, it is creating controversy.

One purpose gentrification are focusing is to improve the community with new buildings, better resources offered, and a cleaner environment. According by Art Tavana, the people will be able to experience “an authentic city experience” (4). Coming from Boyle Heights, I have noticed problems that are needed to be made and the idea of an authentic city is coming from Tavana. Buildings are becoming old and the public streets are needed to add improvements on its appearance. Though improved buildings and homes have been built, the cost of living has increased. Families who have lived  in Boyle Heights for years, are not able to pay the amount and are forced to move out. Instead of helping the poor class in being able to live improved lives, they are asked to leave the community. As for the upper-middle class, they are able to pay the cost and live there. Gentrification should be done in a proper way that would benefit those already living in Boyle Heights.

As the cost of living being raised and families moving out to another city, segregation is slowly increasing. Gentrification was to create diverse communities, but instead creating a distant relationship between both class. Both class have a different kind of lifestyle and perspective. In the end, the lower class, who are able to pay the living cost, are pressured to live the expectations of those higher than them. Reason why the lower class do not speak out is “to satisfy the perennially unsatisfied wishes of the upscale” (7), according from Isaac Simpson. Other low-class individuals feel out of place and slowly move out because of they do not know how to cope with the big difference of both class. “Money can be isolating”, state Simpson. As the upper-middle class in, the lower class increasingly feel uncomfortable,knowing that others with more money can empower them.

Safety patrol and support from the police have also changed that low-income families do not feel safe around them. Violence has slowly increased with disagreements that have occurred between the low class and the police. The police have been given a task in protecting the middle-upper class and slowly begin to see the lower class as a threat to the higher class. Not only are policies who disrespect the lower class is becoming a problem, but corporations as well. These corporations focus on guarding the area for it to stay clean outside of luxurious buildings . A corporation, The Salvation Army, in Skid Row, have been assigned to keep the sidewalks “clean”, meaning to prevent any homeless to hang around in the area. According from Simpson, the developers in Skid Row stated that “they wish to help the poor” because “the area’s homeless are both a bane and a commodity” (5). At the same time, their actions show a different approach. One way that the corporation have dealt with this situation is to put sprinklers on the side of the building to “clean” the sidewalk. In reality, the actual purpose is to prevent the homeless to sleep there. From my perspective, their actions and behaviors is not so directly in order to keep a clean profile.

Another reason why developers are trying to present gentrification is because of new provided resources, such as Farmers Markets and trending grocery stores. Resources like these being provided is a healthier for the community to obtain instead of having a lot of liquor stores roaming around in the community of Boyle Heights. The only problem is that the resources provided in these stores are expensive for the poor to get a hold of. This then creates a complicated situation for the low-class. Not only will they worry about the cost of living in the community, but being able to get the resources they need. This problem can then lead to those having to look for another or second job to have enough wage. Another problem that can be increased is for these stores not making enough money and having to shut down. These places then get abandoned and creates an unsatisfied appearance for the community. I have come upon to these kinds of situations in my own community of Boyle Heights. Many times when trending stores have been shut down, the property become vacant for quite a while.

For the past years, gentrification has been trying to fight its way in happening at Boyle Heights, but the community have fought it by creating their own gentrification.  According from the film, Gentrify? No! Gentefy? Sí!, people have been able to remodel stores and create new businesses as the community support being customers. One kind of business that have been created by the community is a cafe. The past year or so, Starbucks was able to start business in Boyle Heights and have received many attention. The community then decided to start their own coffee shop and has successfully become well known in area. With the success of the community’s cafe, they began to improve other kinds of shops such barbers, restaurants and others. By starting starting their own gentrification has helped the community keep the Hispanic culture alive and not be taken over by the American culture. Many of those who are against gentrification fear the loss of culture and identity. They believe that the gentrification being proposed is for the purpose for the whites and not for anyone else.

At the same time, there is a solution to it. The developers who organized the gentrification project need to have a more open mindset and rethink in the actions they are making. They need to begin thinking about those who are currently living there that would benefit them. Gentrification has created a segregation between those who currently live in the community and the outsiders. Gentrification should not be propose to harm those living in the community. People do wish for improved lives, but what many fear is losing their cultural identity Though they may have great idea for the community, it is all up to the community if they wish for these changes.




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