Gentrification: A real thing in the Bay Area

Teleia Johnson,

When we’re young we all have this idea of what our lives are going to be like when we get older. Your elementary grade teacher asks the class to think about what they want to be when they grow up and what they want their lives to be like. You remember discussing it with your classmates, who are so full of life.

There were those wanting to be doctors or firefighters. Others wanting to be like their parents or superheroes. Somewhere between then and now it seems like society, myself included, has lost sight of their dreams. And not because we’re lazy or unwilling to go after them, but because the fight for survival has become a steep, steep climb.

Today you can’t even walk down the streets of Oakland without seeing signs of gentrification erupting. You see construction workers building apartment buildings in the neighborhood, only to google the property and find out the cost of rent is out of reach. I completely hate the apartment I live in; everything is falling apart and the place looks run down. But when I look for other apartments I get discouraged because there is no way to afford them.

Honestly, thinking about the situation makes me sad because the displacement theme really doesn’t seem fair or necessary. I question why wealthy people choose to come to urban areas, creating such a change that those who have been surviving in the same place for years, suddenly can’t afford to keep up with rent.

People say the system is designed for the black man to fail, but I think the system is designed for the middle class to fail. No matter what race you are if you can’t afford your rent due to increased housing prices, then you’re in the same boat with the rest of the middle class being forced out. Gentrification has affected so many lives. According to KQED, about 14.6 percent of households in Oakland make less than $30,000, so, about 14.6 percent of households in that income bracket are being forced to leave, considering the median price of a home is $626,000, according to Trulia.

Since gentrification has taken hold of Oakland, the city has lost 30 percent of the black community, according to KQED, considering the city used to be 47 percent black. What’s crazy about the situation is now black people and others, are moving out to the surrounding suburbs like Tracy and Stockton. According to, the cost of a two bedroom in Tracy is $1200 a month, while in Stockton a two bedroom is only $967. Both are a decent prices, considering the average rent for a two bedroom in the state of California is about $1459.

The only thing about moving out to Tracy and Stockton is that the minimum wage for both cities is between $9.00 and $11.00. So if you break it down, people have been forced from the inner city to the outer cities. Yes, their rent is lower, but so is their minimum wage. Most people aren’t staying in the outer cities for work; they’re commuting to the same jobs they were working at before they moved. Now families are contributing to a city’s revenue they can’t even afford to live in.

What matters most is that homelessness is at an all-time high in California, especially for Bay Area residents. I hate the fact that it’s so easy to take from the less fortunate, the ones that have to worry about making ends meet, yet it’s easy to give to those that are in a higher tax bracket.

This is why society has become a fight for survival and it’s getting worse. It seems like if you can’t make enough money you have to go, even if you’ve had to work your whole life for the things you have. When will the struggle end? When will people have a fighting chance for their community? When will things get better? I am not hopeful about what lies ahead.