EDITORIAL: Gentrification may impact students
Rapid development of New Brunswick could harm community
Anyone who lives in New Brunswick sees its rapid development firsthand. Mom-and-pop shops that once served the community have since been replaced by large and wealthy corporations and new buildings. The gentrification of cities does well to improve their aesthetic and infrastructure, but there are other consequences that go along with it. It may very well be worthwhile to examine the effect that the continued gentrification of New Brunswick will have on its community, including the Rutgers community.
Often times, gentrification is followed by the displacement of those in poverty. As cities become, in a sense, more “livable” places, those with the money to do so will pay the necessary price to live there — eventually pricing out those who cannot afford the rising cost of residence. At approximately 35 percent, New Brunswick’s poverty rate is significantly higher than the poverty rate of the nation as a whole, which is 14.7 percent. We can see, then, how gentrification will affect many residents of the city.
If gentrification brings with it a higher cost of living, it may very well set additional financial burdens onto students. Considering the fact that many Rutgers students wish to live in off-campus housing, there is no doubt that a good portion of them will feel the negative affects of the city’s rapid development. It seems that with gentrification may also come an unfair disparity with regard to accessing the housing of one’s preference. In other words, those students who are fortunate enough to come from a well-off family will be able to live in their housing of choice, but those who do not will be forced to make living accommodations that may not have been necessary if gentrification had not happened.
With that said, it is not obvious that gentrification is entirely a bad thing. It seems that on the face there is nothing wrong with bettering the city’s infrastructure. Additionally, since gentrification entails the construction of new buildings and projects, jobs may very well be created through this process. But what else is not obvious is that this is an either/or situation — that we must either have gentrification and push out those in poverty, or have no gentrification at all. It seems both are possible. We can allow for the development of the city without displacing families.
Considering the implications that come along with gentrification in regard to the current New Brunswick community, it seems as if gentrification without a plan to help or allow those struggling financially to remain in New Brunswick would be morally and ethically questionable. Additionally, it would seem to go against the values of Rutgers University. For the sake of preserving our community’s efforts toward diversity and inclusion, before the gentrification of New Brunswick reaches the point where those in poverty are forced out, there must be some plan or policy devised that will make accommodations for those who will need it.
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