Who Does Gentrification Shut Out?

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Close ups of a mural Mercedes painted in collaboration with other Los Sures community members.

Gentrification is causing Mercedes’ family to rely on her through intergenerational living. However, gentrification is also keeping Mercedes apart from other members of her family, specifically her sister and niece. “You know you get an application—sometimes you get flyers here, and when you get it “Oh give me one” because my sister wants to come from Georgia. “Give me one,” but when I see it, they tell you the price. And when I see it, I say “Oh, I can’t give this to my sister, my sister don’t make $30,000 or $40,000. So what they gonna make that application? They gonna throw it outside. Cause they told you, for two people how much, for one person how much. So then you have to turn the application down.”

It is difficult to quantify just how many people are kept out of neighborhoods due to gentrification. But according to Mercedes' story, ghettoization and diaspora are like two sides of the same coin; gentrification can shut a people out of a neighborhood just as much as it can displace one. It keeps some families at home while it forces others out. No matter what, it alters the notion of the family unit, and in turn, alters what community looks like. In some cases, it threatens the existence of community all together. 

In South Williamsburg, Los Sures works to make sure that community remains despite changes to the neighborhood. Mercedes is an active member and committee president of Los Sures. Part of the community there is leisurely--it is a place where people come to play dominos and bingo, to eat lunch, to catch up with one another. An equally important part of Los Sures, however, is engaging the community around gentrification. Mercedes only wishes that the people who were making decisions could hear the community members when they speak. "I wish that they could hear us. B
ecause there’s always a little debate here about the rents. We have meetings about the rents and all that because people say, “where we gonna go, where we gonna go?” 

Who Does Gentrification Shut Out?