Pages tagged "making the just city"
By Mindy Fullilove
In 2016, Dominic Moulden, Derek Hyra and I launched our IRL project, “Making the Just City: An Examination of Organizing for Equity and Health in Shaw and Orange, NJ,” a neighborhood-level study of gentrification.
For years, we have each been aware of the gentrification of specific neighborhoods in key American cities: Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York, Shaw in Washington DC, Downtown in Los Angeles, and Five Points in Denver. In some cities, like Hoboken, NJ, it had been going on long enough that we have seen its slow but inexorable transformation from a factory city to a bedroom community housing financiers who work on Wall Street. In other places gentrification was just beginning and we wondered what might be done to prevent the seemingly inevitable displacement of people and the annihilation of local culture. It was this neighborhood-level view of gentrification that inspired our study.
Soon after we started, however, a slew of reports emerged that made it clear that not only was the process of gentrification was affecting cities everywhere: Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Durham, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco, Oakland, Seattle, and Portland. In fact, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition 2017 report noted that there was no state in which a person working fulltime at minimum wage could afford a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rate.
|Barry Farm, SE||Encampment in Houston, TX|
We realized that what we were thinking of as a “neighborhood problem” was, in fact, a national housing crisis, which would require a national solution. At the level of national housing policy, we are in a difficult situation. As noted in the Atlantic in 2017,Federal housing policy transfers lots of money to rich homeowners, a bit less to middle-class homeowners, and practically nothing to poor renters. Half of all poor American families who rent spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs. In May, rental income as a share of GDP hit an all-time high.
Meanwhile, in 2015, the federal government spent $71 billion on the MID, and households earning more than $100,000 receive almost 90 percent of the benefits. Since the value of the deduction rises as the cost of one’s mortgage increases, the policy essentially pays upper-middle-class and rich households to buy larger and more expensive homes. At the same time, because national housing policy’s benefits don’t accumulate as much to renters, it makes it harder for poor renters to join the class of homeowners.
At the same time, we know that we are caught in the legacy of McCarthy-era efforts of the real estate lobby to ensure that housing is created only by the “free market,” thus protecting us from the “Communist” influence of public funding for housing. That rhetoric continues to this day, preventing the building of new public housing, and undermining the care of existing public housing stock. Like most scholars, we expected the data to challenge one or more of our hypotheses. Instead, the data have shown us that gentrification is not a neighborhood problem, it is a symptom of the growing national housing crisis. The implications for health are dire.
By Raheem Anthon
As part of the Making The Just City project, Team Shaw, DC and Team Orange, NJ have both been finishing up the last of their interviews with key players within each community. Shaw, which is studying late-stage gentrification, has been studying the effects that gentrification (ie. displacement) has had on residents and business owners in Shaw. Orange, NJ has been focusing on the effects of early stage gentrification (ie. divestment) on their community. Both sets of interviews will be transcribed and analyzed for the purpose of policy work, and also will be archived into the Anacostia Community Museum.
Making The Just City is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and is led by the Interdisciplinary Research Leadership team: Mindy Fullilove, Dominic Moulden, and Derek Hyra. Each team is paired with two local community organizers: Serita El Amin and Raheem Anthon from Shaw, DC; and Aubrey Murdock and Molly Rose Kaufman from Orange, NJ.
|Making the Just City leaders conduct a focus group in Shaw|
Making The Just City has been meeting two times a year to discuss what occurrences have happened in each groups’ location. Discussions ranged from building developments and new policies that have helped to reallocate funding away from public housing into the hands of developers, to reports about what type of feedback we are getting from the interviewees. Orange has made trips to DC to see the ongoing displacement that has taken place in the 7th Street corridor and were actually able to speak to some Washingtonians about the oppressive conditions of gentrification. One individual actually approached the group, explaining how she has faced harassment from DC police and developers. The Shaw team also made a trip out to Orange to see the ongoing development divestment of the communities. In Orange, the Shaw team learned how a community feels and looks while still connected to its roots. Through both tours each group was able to gain a deeper understanding of what gentrification looks and feels like in its different stages.
The Shaw team has also been meeting with Marisela Gomez, who is one of the coaches for the RWJF IRL team. She is part of Social Health Concepts and Practice, a community health organization that offers the opportunity for individuals, communities, organizations, and institutions to identify and understand the bridge between the health of the individual and society. Within her class, the Shaw team has taken a look at intersectionality and how that plays a role in power dynamics. The Shaw team has also learned that from interpersonal to institutional to structural oppression is how capitalism continues to use these avenues to oppress and exploit the working class. At the end of this training, RWJF is hoping that the Shaw team has a better understanding of how to discuss racial equity.
|IRL Leaders take a learning journey to Portland, OR|
Making The Just City is a study on gentrification and its adverse effects on communities. Gentrification leads to multiple problems, such as displacement and mental and physical illnesses. Both teams have been studying gentrification through the ethnographical method which is conducting interviews, doing on the street observation, and other methods used in what would be considered a routine community immersion study. Our aim is to get as much information from the people truly affected by so-called "urban development" to give a channel to those who have had their voices circumvented by politicians, developers, and others who benefit from having these communities voiceless. We also hope this program will highlight the systemic problems that displacement has on poor communities (majority whom are Black and brown) and place this as a local to national outcry calling for EQUITABLE AND ACCESSIBLE HOUSING FOR ALL!
By Haley Cureton, Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Minneapolis
On June 7-8th, I visited ONE DC to learn about Making the Just City, a research project on gentrification and displacement in Washington, DC and Orange, NJ, led by Dominic Moulden, Mindy Fullilove and Derek Hyra with support from Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL).
A story I heard from a ONE DC member especially struck me on my visit. It was about a family member pressured to move out of her home by developers. She described the overwhelming number of phone calls, notes on the door, and uninvited developers who came knocking and made offers to buy the property claiming that they were giving her a “great offer.” She said the process continued with building intensity. The story struck me because first-- how is that legal? And second-- it took me out of my mind and into my heart very quickly to show me that the issue of gentrification is not abstract, it is immediate, pervasive and deeply personal. The mission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to build a culture of health in the US—and the ONE DC member’s story made me think, what does development look like in a culture of health? Definitely not that.
In a culture of health, people have a right to the city where they live. A home is a place to lay down roots, a safe place that is free of outside pressure to move or sell or relocate before a family is ready for any reason. In a culture of health, residents and neighborhoods benefit from development rather than being displaced by it.
The research findings from Making the Just City will be useful to cities around the US dealing with a crisis of affordable housing and questioning how to slow development and address gentrification. Additionally, so will the model of HOW this research project is being co-led by researchers, organizers and community members. It reminds me of a core teaching in eastern philosophy: actions are examples as much as they are actions. Making the Just City is a research project, and it is also an example of the power of research partnerships in addressing shared concerns about the wellbeing of our communities.
Thank you for having me, ONE DC! Peace from IRL in Minneapolis.
MPC is the lead organization for a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)
Interdisciplinary Research Leaders (IRL) grant. MPC director Derek Hyra partners with Dominic Moulden, a resource organizer with ONE DC, and Dr. Mindy Fullilove of the New School on a project centered on understanding the relationships among gentrification, health disparities, and the affordable housing crisis.
Recently, the team submitted an article "A Method for Making the Just City" to Housing Policy Debate. The paper advances a “community science” approach to investigating gentrification, involving a systematic knowledge-creation process through intimate community participation. On January 19, the team presented their situation analysis methodology to a group of RWJF’s IRL grantees. Look out for further updates on this innovative, community-based research project.
By Raheem Anthon
In December 2017, the Making The Just City team based in DC made a trip to conduct a learning exchange with the team in Orange, NJ. The meeting started off reaching agreement on the type of analysis we will use for the project in the following year. Situation analysis, put forward for discussion by Dr. Mindy Fullilove, examines complex interpersonal episodes in their embedding context in order to: 1) name the situation and 2) discern a set of strategies for action. The team decided this was a good way to delineate the episodes taking place in both cities.
The Making The Just City project started in early spring of 2017. The acting team members in DC, Serita El Amin and Raheem Anthon, were selected by IRL (Interdisciplinary Research Leadership) members Dominic Moulden and Derek Hyra, with input from the ONE DC Shared Leadership Team. The Making Just City project also has a New Jersey team: members Dr. Mindy Fullilove, Molly Fullilove, and Audrey Murdock.
Gentrification across different cities shares many similarities such as displacement, rent increases, extreme poverty, and many more crippling effects. Yet, within each city that faces gentrification, there are unique episodes. Examining these unique experiences provides an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the effects. Since Orange is in the beginning stages of gentrification and DC in a late stage, applying situation analysis will give the team the ability to examine both areas and compare them to come up with solutions.
Developers have continued a type of “Jim Crow era” housing polices whereby poor Brown and Black folks are kicked out, replaced by an increasingly white population largely removed from the existing community. The DC team discussed this before arriving in Orange, referencing scenes from Baltimore. When looking at Baltimore, it becomes clear how displacement is not just made up of bad policy decisions, but is an attack on the Black and Brown (and even poor white) communities that have been occupying these spaces for years.
After the discussions, the Orange team guided the DC team through the Valley District. The area is working class (majority Black and Brown residents) with many industrial buildings vacant, which was the same situation in DC before gentrification. The team also learned some history of local organizing, such as Ironworks; a youth-led organization that focuses on culture, art, and community. After leaving the Valley, the team made a trip to the inner city of Orange, stopping at a local bakery whose owners expressed their dedication to staying connected to the changing community.
Once the tour was over, the team gathered for a community concert that celebrated the day Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white customer during the Jim Crow era, sparking protest that eventually evolved into the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The concert had many musical performances, from Oakwood Avenue Community School singing “Vivir Mi Vida” by Marc Anthony, to a solo performance by cellist Terrence Thornhill preforming “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” dedicated to his recently deceased grandmother.
On the final day of the trip, the MTJC team summed up how we want to apply “situation analysis” within our area of study. We drafted a chart of who were the key players within the communities (residents, politicians, developers, and business owners) to delineate a conceived observation of each area. In the coming year, MTJC will be working on a plan on when to conduct the interviews, meetings, and one-on-ones. The team is looking forward to making sure that this project will be a cornerstone of research dealing with community health as related to gentrification and displacement.
Serita El Amin is the granddaughter of Samuel B. Ethridge, a former National Education Association official who worked for racial integration of state teacher organizations during the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. In 1968, he was named head of the NEA’s newly created center for Human Rights, which developed leadership programs.
So further in her life, Serita El Amin was inspired to follow her grandparents’ dreams and legacy and wanted to represent in changing relationships between organizations. She has struggled in many areas of separation and displacement, and truly believes in human rights and remembering our ancestors and what they fought for. Serita lives in Washington, D.C., in the NE Brookland Manor apartments, where tenants are now trying to protect their rights and preserve affordable housing. She has been there for 18 years -- has one biological child and raised 16 children. Serita loves life and believes we should live life to the fullest with equal shares. She happily joined ONE DC's Making the Just City Project in 2017 to move forward to success and equal rights.
Raheem Anthon is a native of Washington D.C. His childhood consisted of relocating many times due to systemic circumstances of a low-income, single-parent household. He grew up in Congress Heights, Baltimore, and Charlotte, N.C. where he witnessed and experienced the physiological effects that struggle can take hold on people, especially his family. This led him to try to understand the reasons why this takes place in society. When life led him back to D.C., he was stunned to see the effects of gentrification and displacement take place where he considered home. Places seemed familiar, but faces were complete strangers. This, along with the election of 2016, compelled him to get politically involved, begin reading revolutionary literature, and led him to local organizations, such as ONE DC. Being a member of ONE DC has been integral in reconnecting him back to the DC community and he is currently involved in the Making the Just City campaign. This campaign is an ethnographic study of late and new gentrification stages and its adverse effects in the Orange County, NJ and Shaw area. Raheem hopes to continue working with the people in order to restore our roots, not just with revolutionary ideology, but to bring people to revolutionary ideology- a praxis for the people. He believes this will truly create social change by having the people fight for what is theirs and build a new society together.
Derek Hyra (associate professor in the Department of Public Administration and Policy at American University and author of Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City) and Dominic Moulden (ONE DC Resource Organizer) speaking at DC Ideas Fest about the innovative Making the Just City project that brings together researchers and community organizers in neighborhoods facing displacement in DC to understand and produce community-level responses, such as affordable housing and social capital, to reduce health disparities.
Click here to view presentation slides
We're pleased to update members on our research grant through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's "Culture of Health" initiative, one of 15 projects selected throughout the country. Created in collaboration with Mindy Fullilove, MD and Derek Hyra, PhD (The New School and American University, respectively), our work focuses on gentrification & displacement in two communities, and the community-level initiatives being implemented to improve wellness among long-time residents facing displacement. Dominic Moulden, Resource Organizer at ONE DC, is the third member of this team.