Master’s students LaDawnya Hooks, Gilbert Lopez Jr., and Mya Randle authored this opinion piece on gentrification in East Austin for for the Austin American-Statesman.
The three students are taking professor Michele Rountree‘s course, Social Policy Analysis and Social Problems, and live in East Austin or work with East Austin residents.
The students describe a recent decline in crime rates in central East Austin, specially near the intersection of 12th and Chicon streets.
While most attribute the decline to the Austin Police Department’s Drug Market Intervention Program — a progressive crime intervention that targeted heavy drug dealers and violent offenders and gave a second chance to nonviolent offenders — the students argue that active gentrification also played a role.
“Instead of providing intentional and tangible support for a population in crisis, the original residents — the majority of them African American — have been driven far from the city center into the suburbs due to increased housing prices and property taxes,” they write.
The students conclude by suggesting that “rehabilitation, as opposed to gentrification, is necessary in these struggling neighborhoods. An approach that benefits longterm residents is much preferred over one that simply forces them elsewhere.”