December 5, 2017
Editor’s Note: Junior WEST major April Gibson, senior psychology major Cheyanne Ready and sophomore psychology major Sage Philips are guest columnists for The Scribe. They wrote this article to raise awareness of the effects of gentrification on communities.
Gentrification has been spreading through Colorado at an alarming rate.
Gentrification is defined as “the process of renewal and rebuilding accompanying the influx of middle-class or affluent people into deteriorating areas that often displaces poorer residents,” according to Merriam-Webster.
Resulting from the influx of people wanting to move to the state with the Mile-High City, there have been countless remodels and improvements taking place in our beautiful state. Many people see these as good, maybe even necessary, changes, but rarely stop to think about who these changes may be hurting in the long run.
These trends have already started to be observed in Colorado Springs, and it is important to bring awareness to the issue of gentrification and its detrimental effects before it is too late.
Next time you see a beautiful new shopping center with classy chain stores and hipster eateries, challenge yourself for a minute to consider what was destroyed to create the new, posh, up-to-date, area.
For example, University Village Center located along North Nevada Avenue was built because of UCCS, which is located right up the street. With young students predominantly living in the area surrounding the shopping center, it made sense for the builders to push for the remodeling or gentrification of the area.
Right down the street from this area is evidence of how the surrounding town used to be before the remodel.
Not even a mile down the road, there are multiple older motels who are no longer in the prime of their life. These motels, that were most popular in the 1960’s when they were built, are struggling to stay alive.
Many people view motels as outdated and would much rather stay at a hotel in the proximity at a lower or equal cost. As a result of the shift in people’s preferences, many businesses like these are being forced to shut down to make room for newer establishments.
You might admit that you are part of the group that would opt for a hotel over a motel that has been there since before you were born. It is quite normal for people to prefer what they would consider to be the better option. But this is precisely the problem.
If everyone who visits Colorado Springs would prefer to stay in the nicer option, then these stores who have been there for years will slowly but surely become less and less popular.
Eventually, these store owners go out of business because the changing economic status of the surrounding community can no longer support the older stores as well as the newer chains.
This might sound good for you if you are not a business owner and you prefer nice new stores, restaurants, and hotels. What may not come to mind immediately is the effect that this shift could have on the general population.
Renters in this community are paying increased rent every year. As the community continues to become more expensive, the housing market costs rise. This makes it increasingly hard to purchase a house and even harder to make rent.
A glimpse into just a few of the many effects of gentrification shows that statistics on characteristics of gentrifying neighborhood have been assessed through the nationwide census.
Since 2000, gentrified neighborhoods have seen an overall population increase, and more specifically, an increase of the white population. This population has increased by an average of 4.3 percent. Neighborhoods that did not or are not gentrifying have seen decreasing populations, but increases in the concentration of minorities.
Economically, areas that did not gentrify had poverty rates that increased by 7 percent, while poverty rates in gentrified neighborhoods decreased, according to a 2015 article by Governing the States and Localities Magazine.
So, next time you are on a drive through Colorado Springs and see a construction site building a classy new facility, consider what stores are being displaced, and the effects it will have on your community. Consider shopping local to keep the small businesses alive that make Colorado Springs so unique.