Friday, November 27, 2009

Who Knew the CDC Thought About Gentrification?

Well, apparently the folks at the Centers for Disease Control have spent a bit of time considering the health implications of gentrification. They even have a web page page on the topic. FYI, the page looks only at the negative potential impacts of gentrification, and doesn't address any potential positives.

Other fun stuff I'm finding while updating my side links:

Gentrified Fiction [N+1].

Urban Gentrification Meets Bulletproof Windows [NPR]. Okay, lots of you guys might have heard this one the first time around. But for the newer kids it's a good listen.

The Glass Menagerie [City Paper]. Ditto.

And another re-run. 7 Rules for Talking About Gentrification [The Neighbors Project].


Hillman said...

Just when I think it's safe to consider myself a liberal again, given the stunning stupidity of the far right wing Palinites and the 'big government is bad' crowd, along comes some simplistic drivel like this CDC article that seems to make the case for the anti-government crowd.

Since when is 'gentrification' a CDC issue? Are they really suggesting that bring the middle class back to cities is a bad thing health-wise? Really? So I guess they think having only Murrays Meats and crappy understocked and expensive corner groceries with very limited fresh produce selection as your primary food source is good for a community?

Someone with a CDC job decided to use their government position to launch a tirade against 'gentrification'.

Sad. And pathetically one-sided.

But kudos to Elise for at least pointing out the one-sidedness.

Anonymous said...

Hillman I agree. Why SHOUDld the CDC think about "gentrification" ? That word means something different to every person. Parsing words is not their (CDC) job.

are all dc residents stupid transplants? said...

god you people are simple. CDC is funded by taxpayers. taxpayers have "gentrification" on their mind. it's inevitable tha they would address the issue.

don't blame them, blame the stupid arsed american taxpayer's concerns.

seriously, do you people really live in the the nation's brains?

they respond to "your" concerns.

so there you have it.

back to your tofurky, "y'all".

Hillman said...

Um, the CDC isn't designed to address every single taxpayer concern. They are a health agency.

And 'gentrification' is not a negative health issue. In fact, the improvement of neighborhoods is much more likely to bring about greater access to healthier foods, more education, a healthier lifestyle, etc.

The use of a taxpayer-funded agency like CDC to promote an unrelated political agenda is exactly what the crazy Tea Party folks get so upset about.

In this instance, I'd say they have a good point.

Anonymous said...

Hillman, what the CDC is pointing out is that people DISPLACED by gentrification suffer negative health effects from this. Threats to Americans' health are exactly what the CDC studies.

You have no actual evidence for your assertion that gentrification improves health -- can you point to anything other than vague suppositions that rising property values and higher income residents makes healthier food available for ALL? If anything, the CDC report makes the case that fair and equal access to healthy foods (not just plopping an overpriced Yes! Organic into the ghetto) is an essential part of equitable neighborhood revitalization. Of course, someone who so easily descends into Teabagger lunacy obviously doesn't actually care about fairness to existing residents, but I'll give your little hysterical performance a B for its grammatically correct disingenuousness.

For anyone who actually cares, check out some of the interesting articles cited on the CDC page.

oboe said...

From the CDC intro:

These special populations are at increased risk for the negative consequences of gentrification. Studies indicate that vulnerable populations typically have shorter life expectancy; higher cancer rates; more birth defects; greater infant mortality; and higher incidence of asthma, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, increasing evidence shows that these populations have an unequal share of residential exposure to hazardous substances such as lead paint.

Other health effects include limited access to or availability of the following:

affordable healthy housing
healthy food choices
transportation choices
quality schools
bicycle and walking paths, exercise facilities, etc.
social networks

Not quite sure how a *lack* of gentrification is going to alleviate these problems. Gotta agree with Hillman; this stuff is just mushy-headed feel-good paleoliberalism at it's worst. It seems pretty unlikely that continuing the de facto apartheid we've had in the DC metro area over the last half century--where wealthy whites live in gated burbs, and the poorest are condemned to generation after generation of crushing poverty and drug-fueled violence in an urban ghetto crumbling from neglect--but I'm not a trained epedemiologist, so who knows?

Hillman said...

"Of course, someone who so easily descends into Teabagger lunacy obviously doesn't actually care about fairness to existing residents, but I'll give your little hysterical performance a B for its grammatically correct disingenuousness."

Do you think you could refrain from unnecessary personal attacks? It'd make this discussion a lot more productive.

Just because I disagree with the CDC's posting here doesn't mean I "don't actually care about fairness to existing residents".

In fact, that's a fairly serious charge, and unless you have something to back it up I'd think an apology would be in order.

I take caring about my fellow citizens pretty seriously.

Sadly, though, I have found that many in the 'any change in the hood' advocates have no problem with slinging such charges as their first ammunition of choice when anyone challenges the accepted dogmas of urban practice.

That's one of the reasons why such things are such an easy target for those that truly do not care about equity and decent opportunities for all.

Hillman said...

My apologies...

A typo correction is in order...

'Sadly, though, I have found that many in the 'any change in the hood' advocates'

should have read

'Sadly, though, I have found that many in the 'any change in the hood is evil' advocates'

But while I'm correcting, I'd add that this sort of 'you don't care about the poor' mantra is nearly the official slogan of many in DC, any time the failing status quo is questioned.

And it gets tiresome pretty quick.

But to answer your question....

I don't have numerous studies to cite. But, then, the CDC article doesn't actually cite to anything useful either, particularly when you use their stupendously broad and 'must be a bad thing no matter what' definition of 'gentrification'.

But what I do have is common sense.

Very poor 'ungentrified neighborhoods' very rarely have good access to healthy lifestyle examples, resources, etc.

Bringing in a middle class brings more resources. Period. Both in terms of physical resources, like better grocery opportunities (not just overpriced Yes markets), but it also brings in networking opportunities, a reduction in crime, etc. In short, all the stuff the CDC says it wants.

And exactly what type of hellhole does the CDC think all these 'displaced' persons are going to? Could it really be that much worse than what they are leaving?

And whether we admit it or not the majority of existing residents usually stay in the city even if a particular small area is 'gentrified'. In fact, quite often they literally just move a few blocks away. Again, something the CDC fails to mention.

My problem isn't with the CDC being in favor of good health benefits for all.

My problem is that they are delving into social policy in a stunningly stupid and biased way, providing a very unbalanced picture, delving into advocacy for the anti-gentrification forces, without showing an actual link to health issues.

And that's not their mission. Or, at least, it's not supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

Hillman, the 'big government is bad' crowd, and the supporters of Sarah Palin, as much as you might hate to believe it, are statistically mainstream.
That actually puts YOU and them pretty much on the same page in calling BS on this CDC stuff.
Sorry to ruin your day. Welcome to the real world.

Hillman said...


I got no problem agreeing with the fringe when the fringe is right, as I realize that everyone is right some of the time.

And I wasn't as clear as I should have been.

I should have referred to them as the 'all government is bad' or the 'government out of my medicare' fringe birther Tea Partiers.

In fact, I probably shouldn't have clouded the issue at all with referring to any particular group.

Instead I should have called the CDC piece ridiculous propaganda for a political cause and left it at that.

oboe said...

the supporters of Sarah Palin, as much as you might hate to believe it, are statistically mainstream.

Apparently the "mainstream" is now a polluted little rill that trickles down the side of some hillock in some godforsaken backwater.

The amusing thing about the looney rump of the GOP as it seeks to coopt the "conservative" label, is that these fringe types continually point to polls showing that the majority of Americans self-identify as "conservative" when given the choice of "conservative" or "liberal".

Of course, when given a much more descriptive array of choices (i.e. "conservative", "libertarian", "progressive", "liberal"), there is a distinct bias towards center-left policies in this country.


This is one of the reasons that left-of-center candidates have the luxury of running on their *actual* policy positions, whereas right-of-center candidates fight disparately to avoid ever telling the electorate which policies they actually support, and instead stick to a "gull the rubes" strategy where they promise to cut everyone's taxes to 0%, give everyone a tiny magnetic flag, and make it illegal for gay immigrant terra-ists to marry your son.

The current health care reform effort is the perfect example: liberals and progressives want something like extending the wildly popular Medicare program to everyone, "conservatives" counter by telling the gullible that Obama wants to kill their grandma.

Mari said...

Oh let's get back on topic.
CDC says gentrification will damage your health. Not the flying bullets or the teenagers who like to beat up adults walking home from work, nor the horrid fast food options and liquor stores that dot the landscape.
Now if you want a decent conspiracy theory, I'm here to help. The attention given to gentrifying areas are a plot to funnel money away from chronically poor areas to areas where young white up and coming are moving to. So by the time those bike paths, transportation centers, fresh food options, and mixed housing options are installed the neighborhood is majority white and middle class.

Hillman said...


Sounds plausible to me.

And the many steps DC has already taken to make sure poor people stay in place - the massive rent control laws, the liberal sprinkling of very poorly supervised public housing projects, the tax abatements given to any resident that can't afford their property taxes - are just more the same plot.

That, plus the fact that probably 2/3 of DC neighborhoods still qualify as very low income.

Very clever, those conspirators.

I've often wondered what would satisfy the anti-gentrification folks. The considerable majority of DC is in fact low income.

Does it need to be a certain percentage? 75%? 90?

Or is the real goal 100%?

They'd have a much more legit point if low income housing were in fact in short supply in DC and the region. But it's not.

What is in short supply, though, are safe neighborhoods.

But instead of addressing that, instead we attack the evil gentrifiers.

Of course, pointing out the obvious..... those very evil 'gentrifiers' are the ones that are paying for all the anti-poverty programs. Since the poor don't pay for those types of things.