“When in doubt, blame gentrification.
That seems to be the reflex among some who hunt for the source of urban problems that are difficult to explain. The latest example: linking gentrification to a rise in violent crime.
This was the case made by an assistant professor at Metropolitan State University in The Denver Post’s analysis of the rise in homicides and assaults in Denver in the past five years.
“Denver is seeing growth and with growth you see other factors that are unintended consequences,” Professor Andrea Borrego said. “Numbers are up but we need to think about how Denver is changing.”
Gentrification can create tension, she told the Post, which can lead to — you know — violence.
Actually, gentrification is more likely to reduce crime than boost it, although the evidence nationally is mixed.
“Separating cause from effect is notoriously difficult when it comes to gentrification and neighborhood amenities, including public safety,” noted three MIT professors in a 2017 paper. Their own study flatly concluded, however, that “gentrification lowered Cambridge, MA crime in aggregate.”
Gentrification — the process by which chronically depressed or blighted neighborhoods are transformed into thriving communities attracting new investment and residents — has such a bad reputation these days that no politician would be caught dead singing its praises. Social justice critics complain that gentrification forces out lower-income residents and squeezes existing businesses with higher rents. The stigma is so potent that when a coffee shop in Five Points praised gentrification in 2017, its very survival appeared at stake in the nasty backlash.”
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Carroll, Vincent. Complete Colorado 5 March 2020.