A study published by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition would reveal that Baltimore was among the top seven cities in the United States for gentrification. The study used data accumulated between 2000 and 2013 in more than 935 metropolitan areas across the country, dissecting the main causes and effects of gentrification along the way.
Unfortunately, gentrification is not a new issue for the people of Baltimore. The issue has been the subject of controversial debates within town halls for decades. But some real estate companies like RPS Solutions, led by Kevin Seawright, are looking to turn the tide by directly helping those who need it most.
Let’s take a closer look at how Kevin Seawright tries to slow down gentrification through advocacy and fieldwork in real estate.
Gentrification is coming to town
As the NCRC study on gentrification points out, Baltimore was one of seven cities in the United States to account for almost half of gentrification nationwide (2000 – 2013). While we have a superficial idea of what gentrification is, for today’s review we need to dig deeper.
Gentrification involves the process of remodeling, improving, and redesigning a home to suit the taste of the average middle class individual.
While gentrification can ostensibly improve the overall quality of a neighborhood or area, it can also wreak havoc while leaving destruction in its path. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines gentrification as often shift the racial or ethnic makeup of a neighborhood through the development of newer and more expensive resources, including homes and businesses.
Other signs of gentrification may include
- Lack of affordable housing
- Large-scale redevelopment
- Rapidly increasing employment growth
Kevin Seawright suggests that gentrification is not an entirely new issue for the city of Baltimore, and that it comes from an unexpected source: Generation Y. Seawright said: “A massive increase in the younger suburban generation. living in large cities has dramatically increased average house costs. ”
Although we tend to think of gentrification as a housing issue, it has a huge impact on all levels of living. Gentrification can lead to a host of health and economic factors that prevent individuals from progressing.
Health effects caused or exacerbated by gentrification include
- Limited healthy food choices
- Limited availability of accommodation
- Shorter life expectancy
- Lack of natural amenities
- Underfunded schools
Developers can make a difference
As gentrification continues to grow in Baltimore at an alarming rate, people like Kevin Seawright are striving to make a difference, but they are not alone. Carol Ott is director of tenant advocacy for the Fair Housing Action Center in Maryland. According to research by the Housing Action Center, Baltimore had the fifth most gentrified census tracts. Ott blamed current Baltimore political leaders as the reason for gentrification, saying they were striving to “attract wealthy residents” rather than improving neighborhoods for the residents who currently live there.
When it comes to opportunities for middle class residents, they’re not exactly there. Seawright says, “Affordable housing opportunities are drying up, leaving almost nothing for middle to low income families.
Specifically, advocates like Ott are looking to the luxury condo developments that have found their way to Baltimore. ott says these downtown areas can dramatically alter the environment, causing population displacement. Instead, ott suggests, the city should focus on creating community centers to incentivize the construction of high-quality affordable housing. In essence, Ott wants the city and its developers to remember the people who made Baltimore great.
Seawright believes developers can make a difference by changing the way they approach their work. Seawright says, “Our mission at RPS Solutions is to develop homes that remain affordable for middle to low income families.”
For its part, RPS Solutions offers dedicated resource support services for customers in the middle to low income brackets. Seawright says specific and professional support is essential to help “make these opportunities available to the people who make Baltimore a great place.”
Included in their service offerings, RPS provides closing assistance, guaranteed home warranties, and advice to new home buyers. The goal is not only to help facilitate a smooth transition to a new home, it is also to help educate and prepare homeowners for the life they are about to begin.
Changes YOU Can Make to Stop Gentrification
To help inspire change, Kevin seawright believes that developers should focus more and more on adding more affordable units to all their projects in the future. Seawright says, “Knowing that we have helped a family buy their dream home, which they might have thought was impossible, is an incredible feeling.
Of course, Seawright believes that everyone should have opportunities, regardless of their dream home. He asserts: “There is no reason for working class families to be left behind as new construction takes place.
Understanding that RPS has no direct influence on other developers, Seawright hopes to inspire others to follow in his team’s footsteps. Seawright suggests that with luck and practice, the idea of adding affordable units to all single and multi-family projects could become almost universal.
Even as RPS Solutions and lawyers like Carol Ott battle gentrification, there will be steps the average Baltimore resident can take to help themselves. Fighting gentrification means taking stock of your credit and savings accounts. Seawright says, “Lenders start there before they consider a home loan to a homeowner.”
In addition to working on your credit and savings accounts, Seawright also advocates that workers live within the community in which they operate. Adding directly to the local economy through housing investments can help the local landscape while improving the quality of the neighborhood.
Real estate developers can take a stand
Yet Kevin Seawright understands that stopping gentrification must begin with a long review of development practices. Seawright says, “Developers must take some responsibility for the current gentrification crisis in Baltimore. “
If he had a magic wand, Seawright would pass or otherwise influence legislation to make housing more accessible to those affected by gentrification. Rethinking his affordable housing concepts, Seawright suggests that the legislative requirement to require 50% affordable income housing in new multi-family units could make a difference almost immediately. Seawright suggests that this legislation would add financial opportunities to the city while investing in the local community.
Baltimore is one of the few situations where gentrification seems to hit both white communities and communities of color. Going deep into gentrification, Seawright suggests that these groups could be protected and prevented from abandoning their homes.
Going forward, Seawright would love to create a financial grant focused on homeownership. Seawright suggests that every financially and financially prudent family can acquire a grant of $ 5,000 to own a home. While Seawright knows it won’t do much to address issues like student loans, he believes a national housing subsidy option could further ease tensions and put a premium on new home buyers.
About Kevin Seawright’s RPS Solutions
Founded in 2014, Kevin Seawright would open the doors from RPS Solutions LLC to a range of high quality real estate services including asset management, real estate development, asset sale and acquisition. Focusing solely on stabilizing at-risk neighborhoods, Seawright and RPS Solutions LLC aim to foster healthier communities through satisfied customers and through advocacy.