University of Minnesota professor Dr. Ed Goetz is coming to UW Tacoma as part of the Urban Studies Annual Lecture Series. The politics of urban and regional planning expert, will talk about his book New Deal Ruins: Race, Economic Justice and Public Housing, which discusses the dismantling of the public housing project over the last decade.
Dr. Goetz cites the demolition of public housing in the 1990s, in favor of new mixed-income communities, as a result of policy shifts in the 1980s which formed a pattern of disinvestment in public housing. Since this shift, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced by the large scale demolition or sale of 250,000 public housing units since 1990.
In his talk, Dr. Goetz will discuss the nationwide effort to dismantle public housing and how this results from pressures of gentrification. This discussion comes at an important time for the university and the city of Tacoma.
In September 2014, a restaurant in historic Hilltop called Hilltop Kitchen was painted with graffiti reading “f**k you yuppies” and “gentrified.” The offensive paint was purportedly in response to what some viewed as the impending gentrification of the historic neighborhood. With the surge of gentrification in historic neighborhoods in Seattle, Tacoma is at risk to follow in the footsteps of its northern neighbor. Bill Virgin of The News Tribune wrote in February 2014, “Tacoma has tried to light the fire of gentrification. Downtown is one big gentrification zone, or would be if people and businesses would move in in sufficient numbers to support such a move.”
Although Tacoma might be struggling to gentrify, gentrification is a problem in cities across the country. For more information about anti-gentrification movements, organizations like Right to the City are committed to halting the displacement of urban communities from their historic neighborhoods.
Ultimately, the debate surrounding gentrification revolves around whether urban populations of often marginalized individuals have the right to remain in historic neighborhoods. This issue is one the Urban Studies forum at UW Tacoma is intent on keeping at the forefront of discussions about urban development and investment in the south sound region.
The lecture, slotted for Tuesday, May 12, 2015 from 6-7 p.m. in William W. Philip Hall, is free but registration is required.