In so many of our cities, working-class people are being pushed out of their communities. In this week’s Working-Class Perspective, Nick Coles discusses how gentrification is undermining the stability and survival of lower-income people, most of them African-American, in Pittsburgh. He also argues that the solution lies in community activism and progressive policies.
Throughout what was a predominantly black neighborhood, residents are being forced out either through direct eviction from public housing that is being demolished for re-development or because rents have risen beyond their means. In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Diana Nelson Jones writes, “Many who are leaving East Liberty can’t find rental housing under $800. Many are having to accept living without adequate services, including transit, outside city neighborhoods where they have earned a sense of belonging. The vast majority are our elders, lifelong laborers and the working poor. Nobody should get sick with stress in the struggle to pay their expenses, then get sent off to the fringes.” But that is the current reality. One resident quoted in Black Homes Matter says, “We wasted six months looking for something affordable around here so we finally moved out to Millvale. I had to buy a car to commute back here to my job and then I had to take another job to pay for the car. I get very little sleep. And I miss my neighborhood.”
The renowned Working-Class Perspectives blog is brought to you by our Visiting Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year, John Russo, and Georgetown University English professor, Sherry Linkon. It features several regular and guest contributors.