Regeneration NOT Gentrification
Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Delaware County Daily Times
Fifteen years ago, our family bought a small, brick twin home in Media that was situated just a few a blocks away from the 33-acre Glen Providence Park. We had been renters in Media for many years, but we decided to “put down stakes” in a town that we appreciated for its small town character, its green streets and spaces, and its tolerance for diverse people and cultures.
Unfortunately, much has changed in “Everybody’s Hometown” over the past fifteen years.
The Borough of Media has experienced dramatic shifts in its demographics, economy, and physical infrastructure. The town has experienced a 50 percent decline in its African American population, a steep incline in the median income of an average household, and relentless overdevelopment that has traded green space for luxury housing developments.
In 2018, two new major new housing developments were built in Media’s west end that were emblematic of the town’s embrace of gentrification. West End Flats is an oversized 162-unit apartment behemoth that radically transformed the character of a formerly working class neighborhood. The cost of renting an apartment at West End Flats ranges from $2,000 to $3,300 per month. West End Walk is a high-density development of 23 townhouses that was constructed on the edge of Glen Providence Park, disturbing the ecology of the park and the recreational experience for park users. The cost of purchasing a townhouse in West End Walk ranges from $500,000 to $650,000.
In 2019, we formed an all-volunteer, community group named “Keep Media Green” for the purpose of defending open space and the natural environment in the borough. Because of our history of advocating for people experiencing homelessness in Delaware County, some of our friends asked us if we felt that the goal of preserving open space was in conflict with the goal of preserving affordable housing in Media.
We think not. We do, however, recognize that some persons holding or seeking elected office may have an interest in exploiting the creative tension between these two worthy social goals, while offering no solutions to address either.
That’s why Keep Media Green is launching a “Regeneration, NOT Gentrification” campaign to preserve open, green space AND affordable housing in Media.
Here are three bedrock principles that define our Regeneration – NOT Gentrification Campaign: 1) build or rebuild affordable housing on land that has already been developed rather than destroying the precious few green, open spaces that remain in town; 2) prioritize helping current low- and moderate-income Media homeowners to fix up and retain their houses rather than courting developers to build more high-end, luxury apartments and houses; 3) assist current Media homeowners to make their homes and properties more energy efficient and ecologically sustainable through public education and investment.
As a first step that moves our town toward regeneration and away from gentrification, Keep Media Green believes that Media Borough Council, in concert with county, state, and federal government, should create and administer a grant and loan fund for low-and moderate-income income homeowners in Media, so they can fix up their houses rather than sell out to predatory realtors who want to turn a quick profit by “flipping” the homes for sale to wealthier buyers.
The solution to preserving Media as “Everybody’s Hometown” is Regeneration, NOT Gentrification.
Terry Rumsey & Robin Lasersohn, Co-Chairs, Keep Media Green