Letter To The Public
Conclusions Of South Phoenix
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For the past several weeks I have spent my Fridays in South Mountain Village, the new name for South Phoenix. I have been a witness of gentrification and the influence it has on a community as a whole. Gentrification was coined by the sociologist Ruth Glass in London in 1964, and is a term with intrinsic class associations. To gentrify means to change or convert an area that is already lived in, into an area that is more affluent and more appealing to the middle-class.
As you have noticed by the websites provided by my colleagues and me in this class, South Phoenix is a predominantly working-class area with lower-income housing. This area has appealed in the past to various minority groups, especially Mexicans. Most of South Phoenix has a lot of similarities to parts of Mexico, so the Mexicans can relate and feel at home. Just like anywhere a specific ethnic group lives, there are always things that will remind them of home. In South Phoenix you will find this in their grocery stores, by having stores with Mexican dishes and Spanish is spoken by the clerks in them. The architecture and style of the homes and landscaping is of a Mexican feel too.
As South Phoenix grew, it was ignored. This area became known as the barrio or ghetto of Phoenix. The city of Phoenix seemed to turn a blind eye to this area, which began to acquire an influx of manufacturing facilities that pollute the air, where home owner associations and zoning didn’t rule the land. This area also began to have gang activity sprout up and not much was being done.
South Phoenix may not have the big chain restaurants, or large corporation stores that sell various electronic and more high tech goods like the wealthier surrounding areas. However, it still has its own cultural feel and presence. This area has managed to make itself into a diverse, refined, urbanized, neighborhood.
What is currently being seeing in South Phoenix is the incursion of middle-income families by way of new housing developments and more retail. New housing is being built throughout this area and is being sold for prices that the current population in South Phoenix cannot afford.
This new housing has a different feel to what is there now and it is what I call the boring, bland look of white suburbia!! These new houses are expensive for what they offer. The houses are truly on top of each other, with six feet in between houses at the most. The backyards of these new eyesores are about as big as two driveways. There are gates and high brick walls covering these new subdivisions so the outside world of South Phoenix is not seen and ignored.
This experience has showed me that these people in South Phoenix, with not much money or clout, are being pushed out of there homes because the people that want to move in have the money and power. This is not just happening here, but in many cities like Chicago and New York. The question remains, where are these people to go, and what are they to do? Please read through all of the projects completed in this class of South Phoenix and learn what is really happening behind the signs that say, “New homes starting in the low $130’s.”