Gentrification has long been an issue in Brooklyn. As more people move into the borough, they continue to drive housing prices through the roof, usually disrupting long-standing communities in the process. But that’s only part of the story — looking at you, city policymakers — and now a new WNYC podcast series is launching in order to tell it.
Last year, the Voice published the gentrifier’s guide to not being an asshole, which went into depth about what prospective renters and owners can do to be respectful of the communities they’re moving into. Meanwhile, in Bushwick, some residents have been fighting against the onslaught of gentrification — including Mayday Space’s project “Mi Casa No Es Su Casa: Illumination Against Gentrification” and the neighborhood-driven radio station KPISS.FM.
Now, WNYC Studios and the Nation are tackling Brooklyn’s gentrification problem with a series of podcasts that illuminate when, why, and how neighborhoods change over the years. There Goes the Neighborhood looks at the issues from both sides — talking to the people affected by these shifts and the ones ushering new developments into long-established communities.
The show opens with an anecdote all too familiar with longtime residents who have seen waves of transition bowl over neighborhoods throughout New York City:
“You know what’s interesting, the other day I was walking in my neighborhood, and I saw a black, elderly gentleman that I hadn’t seen in a couple months…and he literally — his eyes flew open and he said, ‘You’re still here!‘ And I went ‘Yeah, and you’re still here. Things have changed, haven’t they?’ And we were like ‘Yeah.'”
The podcast readily addresses racism, systemic racism, and what happens when a neighborhood suddenly becomes “valuable” — i.e. “when white people decide they want to live there.” This issue is reinforced in the story of a 30-year Bed-Stuy resident talking about the heartbreaking reasons she was pushed out of her home.
But There Goes the Neighborhood doesn’t stop at the people being ousted from their homes. The podcast also looks at the other side of gentrification, going into the office of a developer to illuminate how he decides which places are on his radar to flip into money makers.
Listen to the first episode of There Goes the Neighborhood:
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 10, 2016