In the news this week, we see celebration over Oakland’s “transform[ation] from a city plagued by violence into a [sic] indie darling.”, noting the recent singing of praise from the likes of the New York Times, Movoto, and the Huffington Post.
As the media spectacle works feverishly to reprogram perceptions of Oakland, the consequences of this propaganda barrage are felt in economic terms: real estate prices have risen 31% from last year, and homes regularly sell for 12-15% more than their asking price as there are ten to fifteen offers on each home. In an exemplary case, a 2-bedroom house in Montclair was placed on the market for 575k and sold for 925k.
Highland Partners euphemizes this as “Consumer confidence”, but what seems to be happening in plainer terms is that there’s a huge number of buyers trying to grab up the foreclosed homes. As banks are beginning to finance homebuyers, they are joining with investors to gobble up the homes of foreclosed families.
So after losing their homes, where can those without bank financing, without investment capital go? They’re scarcely part of the conversation, as Highland Partners continues: “You know that North Oakland is going to be like Temescal in 10 years. West Oakland might take 20 years. The last frontier in Oakland is Maxwell Park, maybe the Allendale neighborhood.” Manifest Destiny, apparently…unless something does someone about it.
Government, real estate, and investors make their intentions plain all the time. Gentrification enriches them at our expense, and so it will continue unless we take collective action to stop it. Let’s fight back!