After glancing through my neighborhood a second time through the lens of what I have learned in class, I have come to several new conclusions. In my first post, I said “the average monthly rent is $2100” for apartments buildings in the area. By talking to residents and relating our conversations in class, I have concluded that majority of the residents are rent burdened. As a result, many are not able to keep up with changes in the neighborhood, specifically through gentrification. In accordance with this, I mentioned that “in the past year, parts of Rego Park have experienced a revitalization and are becoming more commercialized. However, in the process, numerous individuals living in the street are forced to make changes to their lifestyles as they are the primary victims to this change.” The gentrification is evident through the construction of gyms, malls (Rego Center and Queens Center Mall), Starbucks and other well-known restaurants. Essentially, people are being displaced and no effort is being done to assist those in need. Rather the private sector is befitting as is evidenced by the construction of a new 27-story luxury apartment building, The Alexander, where a studio apartment is $2303 a month and no plans for affordable housing have been observed.
I have also become more aware of the criminalization of poverty/homelessness in my neighborhood. I initially observed that there were several poor people situated under a highway and that more traffic signals and lanes were constructed, which I now know was an attempt to prevent the poor people from residing in the area. Additionally, I mentioned that near the mall “there are long lines of people waiting for buses” and now that I reflect, some stops had no benches at all while others contained blocks to prevent the homeless from sleeping there, helping me draw the connection to the implicit nature of the militarization of public space.
I concluded my first post with the observation that “there exists a pattern in the placement of the poor and affluent in which one group begins where another ends.” Using the insight I have gained through this class, I can say this pattern is due to a wage gap. However, after more thought, due to the gentrification in the area, my confidence in labeling my neighborhood as becoming more affluent has increased. I’m just glad that the diversity in the area is at an all-time high instead of being primarily dominated by young whites, leading me to believe that despite the vast changes the community is experiencing, we will continue to stand strong.