Building Vibrant Communities: Revitalizing Homes Essay Sample
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It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of revitalizing homes when considering the rehabilitation of a particular neighborhood. The presence of old, vacant, and run-down buildings is one of the key indicators that a neighborhood is in dire need of rehabilitation; it is with this knowledge that it is important to move forward with the revitalization process of a community or communities that is in need of some assistance. There are a number of important methods for revitalizing communities, and the arguments in favor of the development of poor and underserved neighborhoods is much stronger than the arguments that favor the abandonment of these neighborhoods.
Some opponents of revitalization projects will point to the revitalization projects of the past, like some of the ones done during the early to mid 1900s in Chicago and Detroit, and say that these revitalization projects were incredibly harmful to the people who lived in the neighborhoods (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009). However, it should be noted that community awareness is much better today than it was during the mid 1900s; community planners are now aware of different racial and community groups that are currently living in disadvantaged areas, and the gentrification of an area can be offset using a number of different tactics.
Gentrification is often the biggest issue that opponents of revitalization bring up during their arguments against revitalizing different communities (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009). Because communities that are revitalized often experience a hike in rent and housing prices, people who initially were living in these homes may begin to have trouble paying their rent (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009). This is the process of gentrification, in which people who have good jobs but may not have established themselves financially yet begin to move into communities that are not yet established as upper-class or upper-middle-class (Stanislaus). Gentrification is sometimes a destructive force for a neighborhood, because it can cause the destruction of certain communities; it has caused problems in places like San Francisco, for instance (Stanislaus). However, it does not always have to be a negative force in a community.
Gentrification can be a powerful positive force in a community if it is mobilized in the proper way. Communities have to put protections in place for individuals who have been living in the communities that are being revitalized—this will give these individuals protections against the gentrification of their community (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009). The best way to maintain protections for individuals in a community that is experiencing gentrification is for a community or local government to put restrictions on builders and developers that force them to build a certain amount of low-income housing in a community. This forces developers to slow the rate of gentrification in a region and also forces them to provide space for the community that initially existed in the space (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009).
The first step in the revitalization of an area must be to remove vacant, run down, or condemned buildings so that new buildings can be made (Planning.org). New buildings in the place of old, unused buildings can give a new sense of purpose to a space, and can immensely improve the property values of a region (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009). Indeed, in spaces that have vacant homes, there is also often an association of those vacant spaces with crime, drug use, and homelessness; when those spaces are removed, crime associated with drug use and vandalism often decreases, because there is no space for people to use in the community any longer (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009).
The redevelopment of land that is in use but in poor use is important for land revitalization and the protection of all the people in the community. Community-Wealth notes that when there are empty spaces in a community, the value of space in the community is relatively low; however, once a developer takes an interest in a community, that community’s property values become correspondingly higher (Community-Wealth.com). Old and vacant spaces do not need to become houses or commercial spaces for property values to increase, however; they can become park spaces or other community spaces that will also increase the value of a particular area (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009). When critics decide that land revitalization is bad because sometimes it is done poorly, those critics are not considering the increase in safety that is often associated closely with the revitalization of a community (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009).
When a community is revitalized, there are significant economic benefits both for the people living in the community and the municipal government that is overseeing that particular community (Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization, 2009). Not only are people with higher levels of education attracted to living in these types of places, they are also attracted to working in them (Planning.org). Planning.org writes, “Knowledge workers prefer places with a diverse range of outdoor recreational activities, from walking trails to rock climbing. Portland, Seattle, Austin, Denver, and San Francisco are among the top cycling cities; they also are among the leaders in knowledge workers. Workers attracted to an area are then positioned to put money back into the local economy through jobs, housing, and taxes, which then contribute to parks” (Planning,org). Community spaces and the development of community spaces for the financial betterment of a community at large cannot be overstated in today’s urban development culture (Planning.org).
When developers and community leaders begin to invest money in homes in an undervalued or underserved region, another very interesting thing happens to those homes and communities: the amount of property tax revenue made on these regions begins to increase, and correspondingly, the schools in the region tend to get better as well (Smartgrowthamerica.org). Nearly everything in a community begins to increase in quality when developers or other individuals begin to buy land in communities that are underserved and develop it; sometimes this development also improves the state of a community’s access to fresh foods, and alleviates the food desert effect in these areas, particularly urban areas (Smartgrowthamerica.org).
Once houses are bought in these neighborhoods, people are more willing to invest time and money into the services that are so important to keep these neighborhoods safe, like police, fire, and other emergency services. Areas that were considered urban and unsafe may experience a significant change in their reputation in a very small period of time as a result of this gentrification of a particular region (Smartgrowthamerica.org).
While there may indeed be arguments that can be made against the use of revitalization of underserved and impoverished communities, for the most part, communities that experience revitalization in a responsible manner have good results from the process of revitalization. It is only when revitalization is done in such a way that it is designed for the maximum payout for a developer or a land speculator that it becomes a problem for the people in the community. Communities must be maintained, and it is unfair to allow gentrification to push out members of a community who have lived in a place their whole lives, but when a certain action can make a community a better place for people to live in, those actions should indeed be taken for the betterment of the community.
Not all communities respond to gentrification in the same way, and it should be expected that during the revitalization process, some people may be frustrated by the changes that are occurring in their communities and will feel the need to leave. However, changes can be made that will help better the community without destroying it, and these are the changes that responsible government officials should look into for communities that are in need. Removing vacant structures and rebuilding anything that appears run down is one of the most important ways that a community can begin to be revitalized. This is especially true when the community is in an urban center and has a reputation for being poor or dangerous.
Building Vibrant Communities: Community Benefits Of Land Revitalization. Washington D.C.: United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2009. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Community-Wealth.org,. 'Policy Brief: Real Estate Development That Builds Place And Stimulates Economic Revitalization'. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Planning.org,. 'How Cities Use Parks For Economic Development'. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Smartgrowthamerica.org,. 'Economic Development'. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
Stanislaus, Mathy. 'Understanding The Benefits Of Using A Community-Wide Approach To Reusing Brownfield Properties'. EPA Connect. N.p., 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
The Effects Of Housing On The Local Economy. Richmond: Housing Virginia, 2015. Web. 16 Apr. 2015.
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