All of us live on land that did not belong to us or to our ancestors but was taken by force or fraud from its original inhabitants. The American experience is built upon the foundation of the displacement and resettlement of indigenous peoples because “we had the power to do it.” We still see people using power to displace others through “speculative real estate deals”, “urban pioneering” and “gentrification.”
Questions for Reflection:
- What does it mean for a person to “have power” especially as it relates to housing?
- Are you a person with power? What power do you have?
- How can people of faith “plot good on their beds” rather than evil in relationship to real estate and housing?
FOR FURTHER REFLECTION
A trend over the last 40 years is for young (predominantly white) artists, students and professionals to move into poor urban communities of color in what has become known as “gentrification.” Property values increase, new capitol comes into the community, and crime rates often fall. Cities often encourage this shift because it represents development and increased revenue. However, as good as all this sounds, “gentrification” has a dark side. According to Teresa Cordova in her article “Community Intervention Efforts to Oppose Gentrification” (In Philip W. Nyden, Wim Wiewel, eds., Challenging Uneven Development: An Urban Agenda for the 1990s, (1991) New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 25-48.), suggests that
“gentrification is a creation of real estate agents, property developers, and banks who control the “who” and “where” of urban property shifts.”
In other words, those with power see a way to profit through a shift in the way urban property is reused. In addition, as property values increase, property taxes and rents rise, often making the community unaffordable for existing homeowners and tenants. Families are forced to find a more affordable community. It also promotes speculative land purchases as people look for the next “hot” neighborhood. Buy a cheap property, hold on to it and then flip it for a large profit. We are watching this this phenomena happening in Logan Square—especially along the Bloomingdale Trail. What was once an affordable community for immigrants and low-income families has now become the most recent “hot neighborhood” in Chicago. What could your church do to ensure that families can still call Logan Square ‘home’?