As President Obama noted in his State of the Union address, economic inequality has reached an epic height in our nation, shutting the doors of opportunity for millions of Americans. In urban centers, we see this growing inequality through gentrification. Too often the “development” of urban centers means the displacement of low and moderate-income long-time residents and new housing and amenities for the rich. A first step in ending the growing economic inequality, which is deeply tied to ongoing racial inequality, is to stop this displacement.
The corrosive effect of gentrification can be found throughout the nation even in the “liberal” whitest city of America Portland, Oregon. Portland is known internationally as a leader in urban design with many boasting its bike-friendly streets, accessible 20-minute neighborhoods and quaint local business culture. In fact, this year, Portland was named the best US city by the real estate company, Movato.
Unbeknownst to many, however, Portland is also a case study in gentrification, a glaring reminder that urban economic disparities will persist as long as the structural inequalities of our economy remain.