In many minority communities, particularly communities of color, gentrification has become the recent trend and topic of discussion. It seems as if everyone disapproves of what’s happening. Still, there is a lack of education and actionable steps, particularly in the Black community, to help communities affected by this change.
Zuri Mabry is the founder and CEO of Gentrispot, a nonprofit with the sole purpose of educating the advantages and disadvantages of gentrification, particularly to Black and brown people.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, the effects of gentrification and have been visible to her since she was a teenager traveling around different parts of the city. So, after receiving her degree in facilities management from FAMU and becoming a project engineer, the effects of gentrification were more apparent than ever before.
Zuri recalls having the idea for Gentrispot and just wanting to start a conversation. “To me, the biggest challenge with starting Gentrispot has been going through registration with the state of Florida, promoting Gentrispot as far as putting proper content behind it, and pitching it to neighborhood committees and potential investors.”
Mabry’s dedication to combating gentrification led to an invitation to attend the Forbes 30 under 30 Summit in Detroit, Michigan, after receiving a recommendation from a mentor. Forbes 30 under 30 is one of the biggest conferences for young entrepreneurs and professionals who are excelling in their respective fields.
Shortly after, Gentrispot was invited to join Forbes The Culture, a Forbes community that creates equitable pathways for people of color. For her, highlights of the Forbes experience were seeing people of color being represented and gaining exposure for Gentrispot.
“Forbes does an excellent job of bringing people from different backgrounds together. I’ve had to pitch Gentrispot and talk about it [constantly], so it allowed me to learn what I need to improve on going forward.”
By working in engineering, Mabry has been able to see the strong connection between engineering and gentrification. “Engineering and gentrification go hand in hand as far as creating communities for citizens. By working with stakeholders and community leaders, we can decide how this building will affect the community. Working on the commercial side of real estate, we can see how it affects the community/residential houses. Engineering allows me to see the larger plan for gentrification.”
Currently, Gentrispot is working on informing communities in Tallahassee, Florida, about gentrification: talking to residents, teaching inclusion, combating family displacement, and linking to geographic information systems (GIS) to help B2B businesses fight gentrification on a larger scale.
Mabry emphasized, “We are tapping into a problem that no one fully understands, but no one is taking on. There has not been a common ground to help the next person. We want to be able to invest capital in the community to combat gentrification and affect people in the process.” Zuri also took the time to identify the main issue surrounding gentrification. “Sometimes gentrification is necessary, but it becomes a problem when it displaces/dismisses people who have been there for years.”
As far as the effects of gentrification in regards to affordable housing, Zuri emphasized the responsibility of decision-makers to implement affordable housing options for community residents. “So many families are being displaced because of the rising property taxes and mortgages. Decision-makers, people with large amounts of wealth all have a direct impact on this. In the future, I want to work with the affordable housing act and go through community programs to see how we can support affordable housing.
While the downsides of gentrification are known, some upsides gentrified areas are in a position to take advantage of include health resources, education, healthy food options, local economy boost, and lower crime rates. “With gentrification comes improvements in our hospitals and healthier eating options like Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Starbucks appearing in our community.”
Zuri recommends the Blue Avocado as a reference to stay abreast of gentrification initiatives. Zuri also highlighted Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms for creating the first Anti-Displacement Tax Fund Program. This action will pay any property tax increases for qualifying homeowners in the English Avenue, Vine City, Ashview Heights, and Atlanta University Center communities. This act ensures current homeowners are not displaced due to rising property values and slow down the effects of gentrification.
If you are seeing signs of gentrification in your neighborhood and want to stay updated, Zuri shared these suggestions on ways to stay informed:
Increase your financial literacy
One of the biggest things Zuri told Mogul Millennial was knowing and understanding how to leverage your money. “Buy the block back is a slang term that we use but that’s really what it all boils down to. We have to be able to understand where and how the money flows in our communities.” Increasing your financial literacy allows you to know what is about to happen and to be in a position to do something about it. Whether it be a book, podcast, article, or even a movie, there are plenty of free avenues to increase financial literacy.
Attending community and political meetings
Attending political and community meetings are the best and most direct way to understand how gentrification is and will be affecting your neighborhood. “We have to understand local political decisions and why they are being made locally.” Often there are biweekly/monthly city hall meetings where decisions are made, and opinions are gathered. These are the meetings that can start or stop specific actions from happening in our community. “Gentrification isn’t going to stop, so let’s make sure we are informed about what’s going on.”
Take advantage and pay attention
Gentrification isn’t going to stop happening in our communities! But with gentrification comes more improvements in our local community as well that we can take advantage of. Visit that new grocery store, study at your local Starbucks, and stay abreast of changes in your community that you and your family can benefit from and when the opportunity is right, take advantage!
Stay up to date with Gentrispot by following all their platforms listed below.