Saturday, May 16, 2015

Whiteing out the Latinos and black from Denver

This is not another article about lamenting the loss of ethnic neighborhoods. Or just about the loss of affordable housing. This is about America's 21st Century version of the purchasing of Manhattan Island for $24 worth of beads, of the Trail of Tears, of the taking half of Mexico in 1845.

Denver development ruining the community

A headline this week: "Average metro Denver home sale hits record high in April: $402,302." You can live in that house if you can afford $24,000 per year in house payments. Do the math and you'll see that a salary of $11.50 per hour would only pay the mortgage. Leaving nothing for anything else.

Denver has had black or Latino mayors for twenty-four of the last 30 years.
Considering the travesty inflicted on black and Latino neighborhoods, those mayors might as well have been white, land speculators.

The pace of home destruction has skyrocketed. Many fine homes are being bought up, razed to put up apartments or duplexes, or scraped to add another floor. The skyline is rising, not downtown, but in community neighborhoods. The sun, sky, trees and the view of the mountains disappear.

So are the black and Latino people. They're disappearing after selling their homes, banking the outrageous money they were paid for them, and moving. But they're not moving to another Denver house. Those are unaffordable and even at that, get snatched up in bidding wars.

The black and Latino people selling their homes are amazed. Perhaps they even made snide jokes about the stupid gringos paying $400k for a house they bought decades ago for under $100k. Or under $50k. However, this "joke" is on the sellers, not the buyers.

In Denver's history, poor or working or immigrant peoples moved into areas that they could afford. They couldn't afford to move to the suburbs because banks wouldn't do mortgages to blacks and Latinos to move there. So the inner cities became the American barrios and ghettos.

There are still prosperous, mostly white suburbs around Denver. Those are not the suburbs where the Latinos and other are relocating. It's to the north and east where the somewhat affordable housing can be found, Northglenn, Aurora, for instance.

The Latino family can find a house there, big enough, possibly even newly constructed, and think that they came out on top in the transaction. They didn't. They traded some of the most valuable property in Western America for a suburban house whose price and location tell you it is not as valuable.

Their situation will likely get worse. Unless they are lucky enough to live close to their jobs, they will need to commute, and in Denver that will become a longer drive consuming gasoline that some project will hit $5 a gallon. It's just a matter of time

Some Latinos might be able to use Denver's version of mass transit, the Light Rail. But that system is being built to accommodate the prosperous suburbs and burgeoning nearby cities, what are called "racially concentrated areas of affluence."

Prices to ride Light Rail may not accommodate the closer suburbs where Latinos have moved to. America has a history of neglecting black and Latino neighborhoods. That hasn't suddenly ended.

The hipster/gentry inner city neighborhoods, on the other hand, will prosper. Grow even more valuable. Infrastructure funds are being spent on these Denver neighborhoods as if royalty had indeed blessed the city.

Denver's new Lego apts. loom over homes.
This transfer of wealth from inner city ethnic people to overwhelmingly white people has been disguised as Redevelopment. But it's just an exchange of $24 of beads for land, property and housing.

These Latinos will not be able to hand down the wealth that they might have to their children. The whites of Denver's affluent Bonnie Brae neighborhood or of San Francisco's Knob Hill protected their neighborhoods, the architecture, and did leave a legacy.

The Latinos of San Francisco's Mission District or Denver's old Northside are not doing the same. Their children will be the poorer for it.

Es todo, hoy,


Gregg Barrios said...

Amigo Rudy - you are right on target. If you change the name of the city from Denver to San Antonio, you'd have the same thing happening at even a greater rate of displacement. Hope you can get
this published in the Denver daily as an op-ed.

in struggle,

Gregg Barrios

Anonymous said...

Gracias, Gregg. I couldn't put as much work into the post as it deserved, but I appreciate your support. We really need to stop selling our barrios. – RudyG

Anonymous said...

Neighborhoods in American cities are always changing. Right now the wealthy descendants of the people who moved away from certain neighborhoods in Manhattan are currently moving back and driving up the prices.

But if people are selling their homes at a great profit in Denver, I have to say more power to them. I hope to do the same one day here in Vallejo, CA.

Most of the people I now who are leaving the Mission District in San Francisco are renters. The people who are still their are long-time home owners. They will probably sell at a profit one day, too.

Meanwhile, you're right that entire groups of people have left San Francisco.

Anonymous said...

James, for most people, homes are the biggest chunk of wealth they can accrue in their lives.
When Denver or Mission District houses are sold, yes a profit is made, but along with a huge loss. REDs know that. Those developers sink say, $50k into a house and make a huger profit. That's what the Latinos, etc. lose out on. Some of the most valuable real estate in the U.S. Something they could have left their kids. - RudyG