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The London Borough of Hackney is an exemplary showcase of the gentrification that has affected various areas of London. The term gentrification originated in Great Britain, as early as 1963. Gentrification has frequently been referred to as “the rehabilitation of working-class and derelict housing and the consequent transformation of an area into a middle class neighborhood”. Rowland Atkinson states that gentrification-induced displacement often occurs when pressures on the housing market from wealthy groups create inflated rents and prices which can push out the low paid or unpaid overtime. This portrays the common notion that such potential costs in attempts to socially upgrade an area greatly affect lower income classes that live in those areas.
Gentrification is present throughout various neighborhoods in London and can be thought of as a detrimental or positive force that exists in boroughs such as Hackney by attempting to improve the overall quality of urban life or conversely driving out those less fortunate economically. The positive and negative benefits vary for each borough throughout London, however in Hackney’s case the general consensus is that in both the past and present it has had a more profound negative impact on the area’s citizens. However, this is commonly disputed as it depends on which socioeconomic group one chooses to sympathize with. In terms of the vast majority of the “indigenous population of an urban neighborhood that is in the process of being gentrified, the effects are often disastrous, but from the point of view of the resettling population, the gentrifiers, there are distinct social and monetary benefits to be seen”.
When looking at Hackney itself it proves to be much more difficult, as even though there is a rising tax base as well as increased commercial and tourist activity, much of the increased flow of revenue into the borough is dragged down by the cost of services necessary to withstand the displaced who are brought together. The indigenous population is often “displaced when housing units are purchased and either returned to single-family use or renovated and leased for more than the original inhabitants can afford”.
This leaves the lower income classes homeless as they are unable to afford housing. Numerous residents that have resided in the Hackney district are have been poorly affected by the rising price of rent. Their homes are not being treated as feasible living spaces, they are solely being treated as investment opportunities for affluent high-rise developers, buy-in investors and foreign investment organizations. For poverty stricken individuals that live in Hackney it makes sense why they often feel as if the government does not care; it seems as if the city council in particular does not take housing as a first concern. These factors promote the concept that gentrification in most cases is not as much of a social problem as an economic problem.
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