Gentrification and Racial Equity in the "Laboratory for Social Innovation"

This panel discussion, organized by Baltimore Corps Fellows, attempts to build a shared analysis among attendees of how to differentiate between gentrification and community economic development in the Baltimore context and take action to prevent the losses that have happened in other cities. 

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Gentrification is a general term for the arrival of wealthier people in an existing urban district, a related increase in rents and property values, and changes in the district's character and culture. In America, it is the heir to segregationist phenomena like redlining and white flight that negatively impacted the use of homeownership to build Black wealth. Far from the “blank slate” rhetoric that is often used, the availability of cheap land and buildings is one physical manifestation of systemic racism.

A perplexing aspect of gentrification is the fact that it often operates under the veil of neighborhood revitalization, economic development and other beneficial changes. Aspects of the gentrification process can be generally desirable, such as  reduced crime, new investment in buildings and infrastructure, and increased economic activity. However, neighborhood change is often viewed as a miscarriage of social justice - where wealthy, usually white, newcomers are congratulated for "improving" a neighborhood while poor, minority residents are displaced by skyrocketing rents and economic change.

In Baltimore,  such changes are seen as essential to attract more residents, which will stabilize our property tax base and generate a host of positive outcomes for public health, education, and more.  This panel will ask: Are Baltimore’s policy priorities in the right place to move towards racial equity and economic justice  as we take advantage of renewed interest in city living? 

Goals of the session:

·         Participants share an understanding of gentrification in the context of Baltimore

·         Participants are better able to identify when a policy creates either economic, cultural, or environmental injustice  

·         Participants feel empowered to take steps to incorporate racial equity considerations into their personal and professional decisions related to land use and the economy

Course sessions

    Wednesday July 26

    5:30PM - 7:30PM (North Ave classroom)

    Panel discussion featuring representatives from the development, activism, government, banking, and/or research sectors.