Off The Beat w/ Marc Lacy: Gentrified Blues & Black Dollars

It’s no secret that minority residents are being displaced in many cities throughout the US, including Atlanta, at an alarming rate. This, of course, is due to gentrification taking place. Cities, via a law called Eminent Domain, have bought residential properties in the downtown areas and replaced them with so-called civic enhancements.

You know, things like structures and systems designed to benefit the city in some way, shape, form, or fashion.  Meanwhile, residents are being forced to move to the outskirts, suburbs, or even into the country. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that living in the aforementioned areas is necessarily a bad thing.

I’m talking about the manner in which the residents are forced to do it.  In some instances, whole houses are physically moved out to certain designated areas so the residents can continue living in them (for whatever benefits the move is “advertised” to bring).  In recent years, families being forced out of their downtown area homes has caused an understandable uproar.

Mind you, Eminent Domain is not supposed to afford a financial benefit to any contractor or developer.  It is supposedly set up for “necessities” for the city. Many citizens have attempted to contest the rule, however, the majority of the time, the city is going to win; especially when the word “necessity” is brought to the forefront.  Now, realistically speaking, if the city hires certain contractors to do the actual work, there is going to be some indirect financial benefit to “somebody.”

However with that said, contractors or developers don’t necessarily have to wait on cities to invoke Eminent Domain, and then win a bid if they want to make money.  Nope. All they have to do is offer a pretty penny for a certain home a family may be trying to offload, and bam! And they’re not stopping with one house either. They’re going to make offers to everybody on the block.  Say, for instance, a family is in need of financial assistance.

Let’s say medical bills are stacking up and insurance cannot fully meet the demand.  They’d gladly sell their dwelling for $90,000 to a developer. The developer would then make a few enhancements, and in a couple of weeks, that home would go on the market for $250,000 or more.  And guess what? Not long after that, the whole block would be up for sale. And, the homes are going to be worth more than that in the near future because the area property value is increasing (unless of course there is a huge drop in the market).  And you can bet that minorities are not purchasing those newly facelifted homes.

Have you ever wondered why more minorities don’t invest…period?  Not just talking real-estate, but just in general. Mind you, I did not go to school for investing, nor do I know the first thing about real-estate.  However, I can see, read, and hear very well. I’ve had numerous debates and conversations with friends and family over the years regarding our lack of interest in investing.  Please do not get me wrong, there are minorities all over the world who’ve pretty much mastered the art of investing…and are trying to teach others. There are many in the real-estate realm who are doing very well.  However, when you look at the grand scheme of things, the ratio is lopsided when you compare minorities to the majority when it comes to general investing.

I’m not sure I know the magic answer to the issue; but I can definitely surmise.  Some may feel they simply cannot afford to invest. For every penny coming into the household has to be used for bills.  Others may not be interested because it may not yield a quick and defined return on investment. I’m sure there’s a percentage who is uninterested in investing because for so long, they’ve had to live without, and now they’ve gotten over the hump and do not want to allocate large sums of money for things that are unseen, intangible, and uncertain.  Some may simply not know how to and may not trust another person with their money and decisions to move it. Bottom line, you cannot simply blame someone for not investing because everyone has their own rationale that works for them.

But here’s where we’re missing it.  If you’ve lived on this earth long enough, Christian or not, saved or not, good Samaritan or not, and you pick up on one thing, you’ll definitely learn that money is POWER…good, bad, or indifferent.  Saved and/or invested money is SUPERPOWER. Money in the form of assets, real estate, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, franchises is NUCLEAR SUPERPOWER.

Just think if numerous minority investors joined forces and formed these super real-estate conglomerations putting enough money together yielding a power so strong that they automatically have a say so in all gentrification issues.  Now I’m sure, such entities exist. However, there’s obviously not enough of them to make a serious dent in the overall pain caused by gentrification. How do we fix it? That is the golden question. I know personally, I can begin with my own household, practices, habits, etc.  But overall, we as minorities have to start looking at the big picture when it comes to issues like gentrification, otherwise, we will forever remain in a huge reactionary state whenever the stuff hits the fan.

You can catch up with Marc on Instagram.

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