Gentrification is modern day segregation

House for sale near downtown Decatur surrounded by Highrise developments. Photo by Harry Wyman | The Signal

People have called Atlanta a “Black Mecca” since the 70s. It’s a diverse city where minorities can make a good living while thriving in their surroundings. 

However, a considerable threat has found its way into the diverse neighborhoods of Atlanta. This monster has come to force people out of their homes with jacked-up rent prices. 

Gentrification is the enemy of inclusion and diversity. It is causing growing segregation in our city. It is no longer legal, but those in power still uphold it.  

The powerful and wealthy are using gentrification as a tool to keep class division alive and well in our society. 

Considering the extensive research on the disadvantages that people in minority communities face in the housing market due to discriminatory practices, research has shown that gentrification affects the segregation of poor residents differently across racial and ethnic groups, especially when displacement is a factor. 

A Stanford University professor, Jackelyn Hwang, conducted a study and concluded that gentrification disproportionately affects minority communities. 

She claims that those in minority communities have fewer options for moving toward than their white counterparts. 

Hwang found that low-income residents who moved from neighborhoods that were not predominantly Black benefitted from gentrification by moving to more advantaged locations. Still, those moving from once primarily  Black areas did not see benefits. 

Her findings suggested far more constraints for the Black community when they have to move due to raised rent prices, leading them to move to a shrinking set of affordable yet disadvantaged neighborhoods within the city. 

As these remaining neighborhoods succumb to gentrification, it leaves minorities with little to no housing options.

A report done by Governing magazine showed Atlanta ranked fifth among US cities experiencing the most gentrification. It also found that more than 46% of its census tracts face gentrification. 

Nearly half of all Atlanta neighborhoods experienced a rapid increase in housing costs between 2000 and 2017. 

Approximately 13% of all low-income households in Atlanta are in neighborhoods at risk of, or already experiencing, gentrification and displacement.

“Atlanta is developing so fast that there is nowhere for the poor to go,” said Elisabeth Omilami, CEO of Hosea Helps, in an interview with The Guardian.

Lower-income, majority Black and Latinx areas along the Beltline are experiencing increasing housing costs, gentrification, and displacement. 

People of color are most likely to be kicked out of communities they have lived in for so long. There is a systematic problem. It may not be intentional racism, but it is racism nonetheless. 

We need to build a more inclusive society where diversity is welcomed instead of pushed away. Gentrification is a Master’s Tool, and as Audre Lorde would say, the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.