Dear Seattle; You're doing it wrong.

Dear Seattle; 
You're doing it wrong.
Exhibit B:

New construction, living space and a studio-workshop that's almost as big as the dwelling, at a reasonable rent, utilities included, pets allowed, and has in-unit laundry. Sure it's unglamorous, and it's a live work dream come true.

The price point for this house is at the lower end of the rental spectrum for similar sized spaces (850 sqft living space) in the Bywater, you could rent a place in the area for $800 which would be less than half the size, or a regular ol' family dwelling (about 1000 sqft) for $2200. Home prices are $225-1M in the immediate area, with that in mind $1500 rent is pretty reasonable for new construction. The next neighborhood closer in to the city, the Marigny, real estate prices jump into the multi millions for homes that have been restored (high end) or a livable fixer-uper at the low end (310K), and far too many of those homes are AirBnB rentals driving up the rental market by thinning out the available units. Good for the owner, bad for the residents of the city.

Is it gentrification? Maybe, historically the neighborhood has always been diverse, beginning in the 20th century there have been a few waves of movement due to construction that displaced bohemian types from other parts of town to the Bywater area, in the 40's, 80's, 90's and post Katrina.
Overall gentrification of New Orleans is a double edged sword, post Katrina presented landlords and property owners with promises, some of which were fulfilled, thousands of empty lots through out the city are owned by the state, and city housing authority, still another thousand remain uninhabitable since the storm. This glut of vacant development ready lots has been attractive to developers rather than individuals looking to build their own homes on cheap land. In other parts of town (entertainment districts) retirees and baby boomers are swooping to purchase second homes bringing their tax dollars and spending money to the community. New, upwardly mobile families who'd previously committed to living in suburbs are staying in town buying low and doing home improvements and restoration projects themselves changing the face of older neighborhoods one house at a time. With new job creation in the city there's been a reversal the long trickling population drain, there are job growth is giving people reasons to stay, and drawing new folks into to town. I'd wager the lists circulating on the internet lauding NOLA as a great place for artists to live because it's inexpensive (compared to what?), has a good art market and the number of creative jobs are higher than the national average (NCAR Arts Vibrancy Report, 2017). New Orleans like NYC, SF LA, and now Seattle are the nations big metro areas deemed best for the Arts in several categories including Art Providers (artists and creative workers), Art Dollars, (revenue and compensation), and Government Funds, which if the current administration has it's way, we'll all lose regardless of where we live.

This city is culpable here as well, it could initiate low income housing incentives, develop affordable housing, partner federal grants with housing initiatives to help keep people in the affordable homes they already occupy as new development happens around them. NOLA got the short end of the stick post Katrina, 13 years later, the city is still recovering. In place of the federal support New Orleans was promised, development companies have swooped in to take advantage of the post disaster opportunities, promising redevelopment of schools and other community resources only to raze and build new housing with higher rents and purchase prices. At the heart of the gentrification of New Orleans, developers and city policy create a perfect storm.

As an artist, I have spent a lot of time thinking about where I may relocate my family where we won't be perceived as a component of gentrification. The more I learn about the roots of gentrification, I am assured the creatives are not the problem.


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