Monday, February 9, 2015

Gentrification

It's one of the hardest problems in housing. It vexes all of us in the field and I don't think I've ever seen a good solution, or at least one that was really successful. Is it time to give up on solving the problem of gentrification, or simply continue to place band-aids on a leaking dam?

Well, the city of light hasn't given up. Paris is going to give it another try, by buying up hundreds, if not thousands of existing units and preserving them for low-income residents. Though real estate investors and owners alike probably loath the idea of such a program, it's not so far fetched an idea.

Vienna has been tackling housing issues like this for decades and nearly half of apartment homes there are owned or controlled by the City's social housing cooperative. Based on reviews by several universities and general publications, the system appears to be running well and may be one of the few programs that successfully prevents, or at least lessens, the impacts of gentrification. 

My fair City of Austin, Texas has more than it's share of gentrification problems. With rapid growth and increasing land and home values, everyday sees more families leaving central city neighborhoods due to the loss of affordable homes. We've got several groups working on ideas (i.e. HackOurCity, Housing Works Austin, Livable City Austin, etc.). Who will get it right? Maybe no one, but maybe someone will start us down a path that might just lead to a more affordable and economically diverse community. I for one think that's what made Austin do great in the first place. 

Dave

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