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Community/Harlem in Transition
Date Posted:07/26/04

A Changing Harlem
by:Aminah Roberts

Harlem is currently going through rapid transition. This change unfortunately is displacing many African American families since the price of real estate is increasing while the amount of affordable homes is being decreased. Small stores are currently being shut down as large corporate retailers are being created, and old apartments are being replaced by larger and more expensive real estate such as the homes being built on 110 and 116 streets and the extremely tall skyscraper-like hotel being built on 125 Street and 3rd avenue. By so much of the area being altered, Harlem will start losing many of the things that it is known for especially if African Americans are forced to move elsewhere. Thus destroying the memories of the past Harlem.

Harlem is renown for is richness in culture and convenient location. This is very attractive to the middle and high-income workers who are beginning to move here. However, this is bad news for many who live in Harlem since new, more expensive homes are being built and the rent of current apartments are skyrocketing. Consequently, Harlem residents are being forced to live elsewhere. The landowners on the other hand, see this change as beneficial so they raise the rent become wealthier by replacing current residents with ones that make a higher income.

This change is being seen as very racist, since Blacks are leaving Harlem, Whites with much higher income are replacing them. Some current Harlem residents who have received poor maintenance of their apartments by their landowners view this as an attempt to remove them. Though some residents have made complaints about government refusal of repairs to their homes and poor heating in the winter, nothing is being done to fix these problems. As a result, some apartments are left without heat many times when the weather is extremely cold, even water, a necessity, is cold beyond belief. Some apartment complexes have broken elevators, so those who live on the high floors have to walk up many times, and the broken elevators are not repaired for a long time.

East Harlem has and is now also going through transition. In the early twentieth century, East Harlem was a predominantly Italian neighborhood. Now in the twentieth century, East Harlem is a majority Latino community. Now it is the year 2004 and high-priced homes are being built on Third Avenue, which has backyard and stairs leading up to the door. All of these fabulous homes are so highly priced most current East Harlem residents cannot afford them but outsiders can. Even though, some people are currently paying the same amount of rent, others are slowly having theirs increased or when looking for a place to live a lot of the homes available are too expensive especially since Manhattan in general is more expensive to live than the other boroughs.

All of Harlem is changing with old buildings being renovated to create new real estate and corporate retailers. Some of these changes are good such as the new stores being built on 125th Street, while others are causing a series of problems within the community such as many people in danger of being homeless with all of the expensive homes being created throughout the area. Additionally, residents are experiencing in their homes now that land owners care more about money than making sure that they have a place to live.
The owners of the buildings continually raise the rent and intentionally make it less affordable and while they are forced to move elsewhere, new residents move in to make the landowners pockets fuller. It is unfortunately a possibility that all of the memorable things about Harlem will be gone forever.

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