Updated: Sep 20, 2018
My views on class warfare that is gentrification is based on the historical connection between racism and housing. Even with my views, I can’t lose sight that many communities have become zip codes of oppression, poverty and crime. These communities desperately need help. Also, being in a family of real estate professionals I can’t escape how I make my living from real estate sales. I want a good living.
I am not anti-profit or see anything wrong with seizing on opportunity. The clarity of my thoughts are based on fairness, equality and social justice. I believe here are key things we can do to address gentrification while supporting growth.
Decommodify housing: The fuel that burns the housing inequality fire is the practice of treating housing as a speculative commodity. A commodity with a sole purpose of profits for investors, rather than property that serves a basic human need for shelter and safety. It is a way of thinking that should be implemented in housing policies and tax incentive programs. It will in turn have stakeholders to begin making affordable housing and ownership accessible to all as a secondary priority. This way of thinking doesn't ignore profits but will move it away it away from housing being a speculative investment alone.
Housing credits: Establishing a flat housing credit outside of just mortgage deductions that will allow renters to deduct portions of rent. This would allow renters to accumulate savings in the same way that owners do. Savings that could be put into other income generating vehicles including homeownership.
Comparable Property Restrictions: Predatory investors are coming into communities rehabbing homes and pricing the property based on comparable sales miles away. They are inflating the home value based on comparative price analysis from communities with higher home prices. There needs to be pricing restrictions that force appraisers to use the immediate community and not allow investors to seek out more profitable comparable properties to inflate profit margins.
Embrace Community Land Trust: Community Land Trust organizations are designed to ensure responsible use of land. Community land trusts can be used for a myriad of commercial and residential usage but are primarily used to ensure long-term housing affordability. There needs to be a systematic approach to preserving areas and keeping them free from development or profit driven revitalization.
Grandfather Tax: To protect long time senior homeowners, a grandfather tax moratorium should be implemented. This will protect fixed income homeowners from rising property taxes. This tax break will be lifted if property is gifted or sold.
Make Affordable Housing Credits Available To All: Currently most housing tax credit dollars go to large affordable home projects that are part of multi-faceted planned development. These development uses affordable housing tax credits to encourage investing. As long as a percentage of the units are designated as affordable housing, developers can receive tax credits for decades. This program needs to be expanded and include the use of single/multi-family housing. This will allow for smaller developers to build or rehab housing without inflating prices to create a stronger return on investment. This would engage local investors as well.
Public Housing Ownership: Public housing must implement innovative resident services. Services that include use community engagement, workforce development and unit ownership programs. Through education and employment support, residents can own their rental units. This will create a revived sense of pride and renewed optimism. Not only would this remove the financial burden from local municipalities it can be launch pad for wealth development. This decreases the concentration of poverty and increases public safety.
As I took a deeper look at gentrification, I realized we all play apart. Those who scream the word out of discuss have also allowed it to happen. Those who ignore the realness of it are taking advantage. Together we can use gentrification to strengthen our communities, increase diversity and enhance the quality of life for everyone.