Gentrification Nation | Urban Living
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Gentrification Nation



We hear the term "gentrification" a lot these days when it comes to neighborhoods. When wealthier buyers and renters move into a poor neighborhood and make upgrades, the gentrified neighborhood then pushes out the less financially abundant folk living there.

I became aware of this in Salt Lake City many decades ago when John Williams, one of the owners of Gastronomy/Market Street Grill/The New Yorker purchased a home in the Capitol Hill area. At the time, many were astounded that he didn't buy a home in the Harvard/Yale, Federal Heights or Holladay neighborhoods, where the city's expensive homes were traditionally found.

Williams had lived downtown and buying on the Hill was a natural for him because his new home would be close to his office. But people still scratched their heads as to why he'd live in an area that wasn't thought to be an "exclusive neighborhood." Thanks to Williams homesteading in a less-expensive neighborhood, buyers' eyes turned to the wonderfully historic homes around the Utah State Capitol. Soon, a younger and more affluent group of buyers would call the Marmalade and Capitol Hill neighborhoods home.

Over the years, this trend has been seen in other Salt Lake Valley neighborhoods including lower Sugar House, Taylorsville, areas around Cottonwood Heights (i.e., White City) and Rose Park. You can see it happening now in the "up and coming" 'hoods of lower 9th and 9th, Poplar Grove and Glendale.

Beyond Salt Lake, a new type of gentrification is being felt in East Coast shoreline communities. Dubbed "climate gentrification," CNN describes it as a "process in which wealthier people fleeing from climate-risky areas spur higher housing prices and more aggressive gentrification in safer areas."

When the wealthy see the horrific news of climate-related disasters like the Miami condo collapse last month that killed almost 100 people in the middle of the night, they react by fleeing the dangers of hurricane winds, storm surges and water damage by moving inland to higher ground.

As a result, the Black working-class neighborhoods on high ground in New Orleans are seeing an influx of new neighbors grab up cheaper homes above the flood plain and push up housing prices.

"Climate-risky cities around the country are also seeing signs of gentrification ... where booming real estate prices in higher-ground, minority neighborhoods—like Little Haiti—have been tied to sea-level rise," reported CNN.

As the climate changes, sea levels will rise. New York City is only 33 feet above sea level, Miami is 6.5 feet and San Francisco is 52 feet near the bay. The areas of the U.S. that see the most coastal flooding include Tampa, Charleston, Long Island and New Jersey.

Given the massive monsoon rains in Southern Utah this year, homeowners may want to reassess if they should live on higher ground in the future if these storms are going to become the norm.

The theory of climate gentrification would then logically point to affordable housing appearing in flood-prone neighborhoods. And flood insurance is extremely expensive!