query: gentrification and loss of commercial diversity

colist at comm-org.wisc.edu colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Fri Sep 22 15:26:48 CDT 2006

[ed: please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to Ginny's query.]

From: ginnybrowne at riseup.net


I work as an Economic and Workforce Development Organizer at a housing
rights and neighborhood preservation organization on the Lower East Side,
NYC - a historically multi-racial, multi-ethnic, low-income neighborhood
with a strong history of cultural identity and community activism. In the
last few years, increasing gentrification in the neighborhood and an
extreme proliferation of bars and restaurants have led not only to rising
residential rents, but skyrocketing commercial rents and the displacement
of long-standing locally owned small businesses that serve the LES’s
low-income communities. In response, my organization is working on a
campaign to preserve the commercial diversity of neighborhood and promote
accountable development. We are conducting a needs assessment survey of
local small businesses geared toward connecting business owners with
technical assistance opportunities, but are also working to engage
business owners and residents in broader organizing opportunities to
problem-solve collectively and achieve our goals in a more long-term,
lasting way.

I am interested in any experience or knowledge people have regarding
strategies, tactics, or policies communities have used to address the
displacement of locally-owned small businesses and resulting loss of
commercial diversity in a context of increasing rents and gentrification.
We have a meeting scheduled next week to talk about forming a merchants
association in the neighborhood, but are also interested in exploring
other avenues for addressing these issues creatively. I would be
tremendously appreciative and excited to hear about any resources or
personal experiences that would be relevant here.

Many thanks in advance!

In solidarity,
Ginny Browne

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