With the coming of Whole Foods, the Banner story on JP gentrification (“Debate still simmers on JP gentrification,” June 16, 2011) highlights an important debate that seems unending, with few outcomes that actually resolve the issue.
We know that achieving a stable working-class community can be at odds with for-profit real estate development. But we also have good examples — like the Rouse Company’s development of its planned community in Columbia, Md. and others — as models of success. So having both is possible!
We should also recognize that the fact that Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) is building more than 600 units of affordable housing hasn’t stopped Whole Foods from coming to JP or gentrification of the area. Given that, perhaps building more affordable housing isn’t the complete answer!
While nonprofit developers may indeed have trouble competing against for-profit developers, these same developers have no trouble exercising their leverage over nascent minority or small business firms.
This pressure on smaller firms is particularly damaging in neighborhoods of color because MBEs and small businesses have a much better track record of local work force hiring and maintain more inclusive hiring practices that allow non-union and union employment.
If we’re serious about putting an end to gentrification, why do our solutions always isolate people of color in ways that ensure they will remain poorer with fewer means?
To the eyes of the community, more affordable housing and foreclosure protection alone will not stop gentrification! Stopping gentrification requires participation by all in the financial benefits of community improvements and new amenities. This starts with a job opportunity that is inclusive and need not be obliged by union tethers.
Jobs are the engine to a stable working-class community and key to ending gentrification!
Chairman Jackson Square CAC