Study: Despite the Gloss of Gentrification, Much of Brooklyn Still Poor

Brooklyn boasts some of the highest rents in the country, but many parts of the borough remain under the poverty line.

It’s news to no one that decades of gentrification have changed much of Brooklyn’s landscape, but according to Forbes, once the sheen of hip restaurants and glossy condos is peeled back, a darker story is revealed about how the rest of the borough lives.

A Fordham study found that Brooklyn is home to four of the nation’s 25 most rapidly gentrifying zip codes, and writer Kay Hymowitz recently said that Brooklyn has gotten “its groove back” as a “post-industrial hotspot."

Still, over one in five Brooklyn residents live under the official poverty line, and roughly 50 percent above the state average. The borough’s unemployment rate recently stood at 11 percent, and of the 50,000-some jobs that have been created since the recession, about 30,000 have been in the low-wage health care and social assistance sector, with another 9,000 in the hospitality industry.

Forbes also notes that Brooklyn’s median per capita income in 2009 was just under $23,000, almost $10,000 below the national average.

According to Fred Siegel, an Urban Historian and longtime Brooklyn resident, it’s a tale of two cities – “Brownstone and Victorian Brooklyn is booming,” as are the parts of Brooklyn closest to Manhattan. Siegel says that lower-class Brooklyn “is pockmarked with empty stores,” with an industrial- and port-based economy almost entirely gone.

Brooklyn alone has lost 23,000 manufacturing jobs in the past decade, says Forbes.

“So while artisanal cheese shops serve the hipsters and high-end shops thrive, one in four Brooklynites receives food stamps,” says the article.

Similar patterns have emerged across the country, as in the divide between San Francisco – where technology companies have bloomed, and where rents are sky-high – and Oakland, just across the bay, which suffers from severe employment and rising crime.

Demographer Wendell Cox says that in the nation’s largest cities, roughly 80 percent of the population growth over the past decade consisted of people living below the poverty line.

Last week, it was reported that the income gap in New York City is at its highest in more than a decade.

jill September 26, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Gentrification is a sin. Look at eminent domain for Barclays and the numbers of people displaced so the gentrified can have basketball. Let's be honest, the poor cannot afford to attend. With gentrication, besides being poor, the poor/middle classs do not even have a neighborhood to live in. If they are lucky and can remain, they cannot afford any neighborhood shops because the reasonably priced stores have had their rents raised and all that is left are banks and over priced artisinal shops
pat September 26, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Explain gentrification jill. Do you mean the large amounts of people that sold their properties in order to create a better life for themselves, finally. What do you say to the person that busted their behind their entire life and can finally have a return on their investment. After enduring years of crack epidemics and horrible crime. If a person decides to open a business and charge 100 Dollars for a burger and someone is silly enough to pay for it, that is on them. If you are resourceful there are still ways to make ends meet. Who said America is perfect. I remember being a young person in the city and all my friends were broke, because most of our income went to rent. We had a great time though, because our expectations of material things were not like today. We had ourselves and the will to make it in the city. Please stop brushing everything with the word gentrification.
Zenobia Moadebe September 28, 2012 at 02:20 AM
Wow who would ever think I would so strongly agree with Pat!!
Archie September 28, 2012 at 01:33 PM
I would have agree with both Pat & Jill, but I totally understand where Jill is coming from. I believe that gentrification has it's good and bad points. On one hand those who want to leave and are getting out ahead of the game it is a plus. But for those who are forced out or simply cannot afford to live in a community they have lived their entire life is the unfortunate side of it.


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