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Mobilizing For Sustainable Development
Volume 1, Issue 1 Winter, 2007 Sojourner-Douglass College

Gentrification Targets Low-Income Residents

Community

Gentrification is uprooting the neighborhoods surrounding Sojourner-Douglass College's East Baltimore campus and causing residents facing displacement to seek ways to create more stability in the community. The word gentrification, which derives from the word gentry, means to change the makeup of a neighborhood by replacing the low-income residents with those considered more economically viable. This can occur when the people who are planning the changes have the political and economic resources to implement their plans, while the residents who face displacement lack those resources. Moreover, a recent Supreme Court decision that “eminent domain” can be used to seize property for economic development that serves a “public purpose” will exacerbate the problem. In a scathing rebuttal of that decision, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor acknowledged as much when she stated, “the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more …” Clearly, a remedy is needed whereby the residents can become viable partners with other stakeholders in revitalizing urban communities instead of a top-down approach where the affluent can simply exercise the prerogatives of an unequal playing field.

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