Interesting piece from VOX:
In his 2019 paper “Hoboken Is Burning: Yuppies, Arson, and Displacement in the Postindustrial City,” Princeton historian Dylan Gottlieb documented the violent displacement Puerto Rican residents faced between 1978 and 1983 as the city of Hoboken, New Jersey, gentrified. As thousands of young professionals flooded into Hoboken, the potential sale or rent price for converted units rose precipitously, and “property owners faced powerful incentives to displace low-income tenants.”
As a result, “nearly five hundred fires ripped through tenements and rooming houses in the square-mile city,” Gottlieb writes. “Most [displaced residents] never returned to Hoboken. Nearly every fire, investigators determined, had been the result of arson.” In sum, 55 people died and over 8,000 were made homeless.
Today, this sort of violent displacement is not what most people mean when they talk about gentrification. But what, exactly, they’re talking about is less clear, and the muddled debate often produces muddled policy goals.