Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The cultural strength of immigration

I don't know of any successful anti-gentrification policy measure. Turning Greenwich Village into a historic district saved the buildings from demolition, but didn't save the neighborhood from gentrification. Zoning might help Chinatown if it could bring locally-hiring manufacturing jobs into the neighborhood.

Affordable housing construction has been a success in Chinatown. Unfortunately, the city's current affordable housing programs bring more luxury housing than affordable housing, and very little of the affordable housing is low-income affordable.

One organic social factor has prevented gentrification of several New York communities. Neighborhoods that continue to receive new working-class immigrants and retain them tend to keep their cultural character and resist gentrification. Chinatown has that in its favor.

But many local residents and business owners have interests that do not prioritize new immigrant needs.

The issues before the Working Group are both complex and difficult, and I haven't seen them fully hashed out. The CWG principles are all well-intentioned, but there has been no definitive analysis explaining how to get from principle to practice.

Hunter College's Urban Studies Department is producing a study of Chinatown which I hope will address these issues and conflicts. The consequences of policies need to be fleshed out clearly on paper so that all parties know what is at stake. Right now the teams seem too splintered and narrowly focused. It might be helpful for an outside, disinterested academic institution to consider the consequences of each possible policy decision.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Thank you for changing to black on white background, much much easier to read.