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RECAP OF THE GENTRIFICATION
& DISPLACEMENT TEACH-IN
(includes action steps for addressing gentrification)
April 20, 2019 @ Green St. Meetinghouse, Germantown, Philadelphia
Hosted by: Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together and Men Who Care of Germantown
Facilitated by: CORAJUS (Coalition for Racial Justice)
 
Special thanks to CORAJUS for providing and generating most of the content shared on this page.
** Click to view a PDF slideshow with calls to action **

Who was

at this event? 

Over 80 people

About 20% have lived in Germantown 30 years or more

About 10% have lived in Germantown less than 5 years

Most people fell in the 10-20 years in Germantown range

Most people reside in the

19144 zip code

Understanding what gentrification is

The context of this event is focused on institutional and systemic issues

rather than person-to-person issues or individuals. 

When you hear the word GENTRIFICATION, what comes to mind? Is that positive or negative? 

Negative implications: 

Loss of history and culture

Inequality, exploitation

Displacement, higher rent, higher taxes

Powerlessness, exclusion

When we made a list of words with positive implications to gentrification, we found that in many instances, it depends WHO is on the receiving end and who holds the power.

 

For example: REVITALIZATION sounds like a positive thing, right? Definition = to impart new life, restore to an active or fresh condition. But who benefits? Who can afford to benefit? Who can afford to stay in the community and enjoy the benefits of revitalization?

 

Or BETTER SCHOOLS. Who can afford the better schools?

Which children can get into the better schools? 

 

HIGHER PROPERTY VALUES... can be good for homeowners, bad for renters 

What is causing gentrification?

Here we learn about government policies (Federal and local) that have allowed white Americans to build wealth and equity for many years, while largely keeping that opportunity from black Americans, as well as policies that destabilize/uproot low-income communities / communities of color:

FHA loans for veterans. Redlining. White flight. Urban Renewal. 

We're talking about an OLD system with a lot of structural racism

still buried deep and rearing its head. This is not a new battle.

 

Imbalance of power. Power on a personal level, and power to impact changes in the community. 

Economic power (the ability to have choices)

Social power (whose influence or whose needs matter)

Political power (who's making the decisions, who are the decision-makers listening to)

Neighborhoods get investment and amenities improve when there's potential for profit. 

Sometimes people move into a neighborhood and might not value what's around, or they are dismissive of it, in part because they weren't taught to value it. Then they may try to change it. 

Philly Power Research has looked into sources of funding for City Council members and found that

in every district, developers are the #1 funders. 

 

 

Defining gentrification

Gentrification is a term used to describe the economic and cultural transition that often occurs when wealthier residents start to move into predominantly lower-income, urban neighborhoods. The shift typically pumps economic investment into the neighborhood, increasing its desirability and prompting increase in home values and rent prices. 

(thanks to CORAJUS for this definition)

Indicators of a neighborhood likely

to experience gentrification 

Easy access to downtown, jobs, schools

High proportion of renters

Comparatively low housing values, particularly for housing stock with architectural merit

Location in a region with increasing levels of metropolitan congestion

Vacant land and property (only 2% of Germantown's land is vacant)

Action / Solutions

We want good jobs, good schools, clean streets... development can help with this, but how? 

EQUITABLE DEVELOPMENT and

DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT DISPLACEMENT 

(the alternative to gentrification)

The following characteristics are pulled from a Kirwan Institute report describing equitable development:

 

- The distressed community transitions into a mixed income, mixed wealth and diverse community

 

- The social networks and services utilized by traditional residents are maintained and improved

 

- Existing neighborhood businesses are supported while additional viable businesses are created

 

- Neighborhood improvement not only focuses on improving the physical environment but focuses on creating wealth and opening opportunities (such as employment) to existing residents

However, THERE'S NO ROADMAP for how to get there.

What's happening in Philly? 

Women's Community Revitalization Project: www.wcrpphila.org

Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities: www.phillyaffordablecommunities.org

100 Families: www.villagearts.org 

215 People's Alliance: www.215pa.com

Soil Generation: www.soilgeneration.org

What's happening in Germantown? 

(This list does not acknowledge all the

personal/organizational efforts to prevent displacement, 

but rather reflects what was presented during the Teach-In)

 

Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together is very focused on this issue and is using a community-building and community ownership/control approach to addressing it. 

Men Who Care of Germantown is connecting with local institutions like Roosevelt Middle School and Martin Luther King High School, empowering youth to become responsible citizens and stewards of Germantown: www.menwhocareofgermantown.org

Both organizations are part of a coalition that is taking leadership on the issues of gentrification and displacement, beginning with this Teach-In. Individuals and organizations are encouraged to get involved.

Group brainstorm:

action ideas generated

by attendees of the Teach-In.

 

Some can be done on your own, many involve coming together in groups.

1. Steward our neighborhoods and create positive energy with fellow residents

 

 

2. Form a steering committee to provide leadership on this issue

 

3. Be involved with local politics and development, have a say in what's going on

 

 

4. Support and advocate for city-wide equitable development / affordable housing policies

 

 

5. Create alternatives for owning land

 

 

6. Promote or connect people to programs they need

7. Research

Assess your resources, what can we really take on?

Identify goals: affordable housing? Community advisory committee? Cooperative ownership? Rent control?

 

Create a plan (use what’s in this brainstorm)

Homeownership counseling

Financial literacy

Tangled title workshops

Community Land Trusts (community ownership)

Religious institutions, other not for profit organizations as land holders

 

Get involved with Germantown Residents for Economic Alternatives Together (GREAT)

Shared ownership (look at Community Susu in Kensington)

Collectively owning land (get info/content/presenters from Soil Generation’s Buying up the Block event, look at their powerpoint, invite presenters to share with us too)

Study group/more learning and research

Look into rules regarding non-profit organizations owning land

 

Become a block captain, connect with your current block captain, or disseminate info about becoming a block captain to others

Organize your block, get people out

Tear down bandit signs and hang posters, etc. that show resources for Germantown residents  

Create a place where everyone knows what’s happening and when

Establish relationships with your neighbors, be more visible, sit on the porch, walk the neighborhood, pick up trash

Organize a trash clean up, plant a tree

Include renters and seniors

Listen to and use Gtown Radio

Organize around nuisance properties, dumping, code enforcement

Take part in events/projects of community-based groups like GREAT or Men Who Care of Germantown

 

End the tax abatement and

Sheriff’s Sales

Rent control through coalition building (stabilize existing residents)

Get involved with Philadelphia Coalition for Affordable Communities

Push for more money to be put into the City’s Housing Trust Fund and directed toward affordable housing for low-income residents

Germantown High School and Fulton Elementary School redevelopments and community organizing

Attend Zoning Board of Appeals meetings

Attend your local RCO (Registered Community Organization) meetings where votes are taken on developments, and developers hear resident input. Advocate for affordable housing.

Attending meetings with Council people

Educate residents through the Citizens Planning Institute

Vote on May 21st… get neighbors to vote… find concrete information about who funds candidates and ways to push them to be accountable to us

Door to door educating people

Come together with developers to discuss what they are planning to develop. If a developer buys commercial property and participates in gentrification in a community, they should also have in mind the prospect of creating job and business opportunities for those in the community. Provide affordable lease agreements and rental facilities that are licensed and inspected.

Push developers and neighborhood businesses to hire locally and provide a living wage

 

Change attitudes, welcome change, and be willing to change

Form or join an anti-racism committee/task force to examine role of racism in gentrification and ways to address/reduce/educate

 

Get educated about what your zip code indicates about your health and quality of life

Effects of incarceration

To organize a similar workshop in your community, check out www.corajus.org

or reach out to michaela@corajus.com.

To work with GREAT on organizing more educational events like this, you could join our Education & Advocacy Committee. Send a message to find out about projects we're working on, and next meetings.