Gentrified Seattle

By Hailey Abdilla

With the housing shortage spiking nationwide and the homeless population on the rise due to the pandemic, the issue of gentrification has become much more prevalent. As lower income residents are pushed out of their homes to make way for the upper middle class, they are thrown out onto the streets with little assistance and left to fend for themselves. 

Seattle is the third quickest city in America to be  gentrified, falling closely behind Washington DC and Portland. So far 50% of census tracts in Seattle have been gentrified with the median home values in these areas increasing by 47% between 2000 and 2013. This unreasonable spike in housing prices changes the makeup of urban neighborhoods,  notably, forcing out families of color and lower income residents who have lived in these areas for decades. Some even go as far as to compare gentrification to the “white flight” in which affluent white families fled into the suburbs in order to avoid the families of color that were moving into downtown districts. In Seattle, the racial demographics among the gentrified tracts have greatly changed with the Hispanic population dropping an average of 14.3% across the seven tracts while the white population widely remained the same. 

The issue of gentrification has a plethora of consequences including displacement and increased food insecurity. As gentrification in Seattle continues, food insecurity has reached some all-time highs, peaking in 2012 at 15.4%. Furthermore, in 2017, an additional 13,000 Seattle residents fell into the “food security gap,” which essentially means families are in need of food assistance but make slightly too much to qualify. Often, higher-end grocery stores and bars moving their way into neighborhoods act as a signal that that neighborhood is moving toward gentrification, increasing food insecurity as the original residents lose access to accessible and affordable groceries. As the local residents are faced with rising rent and food prices, most are faced with no choice but to move out, opening up the neighborhood for affluent families to swoop in and buy their property. 

Gentrification is yet another way for people to ignore the wants and needs of the lower class. Wealthy people get what they want at the expense of the people who live in these neighborhoods, a shameful marker of the wealth inequality that has become so prevalent in America today.