There’s this house on my street that longtime residents of the neighborhood call “The Brown House.”
It’s actually not brown. He is grey. But it’s called “The Brown House” because the family that lived there had the surname “Brown”. And this house was known seven years ago because the neighbors knew it as a drug store. where people would come not only to buy drugs, but also to use them.
In August 2015, the Cuyahoga County District Attorney’s Office convinced a judge to order that the house to barricade. A few months later, the owner of the house, Sean Brown, was in prison and the house was in tax foreclosure. An investor bought the foreclosed property, renovated it, and in 2019 sold it to a young family for over $300,000.
We tend to think that the reasons people leave a gentrified neighborhood are very simple. Housing prices and rents are rising; people leave the neighborhood in anger or sadness because it’s too expensive. Or maybe, in some cases, we might think that some people who leave are happy because they’re enjoying gentrification, laughing their way to the bank and a retirement apartment in Florida.
But there are a lot more variations than that — almost as many variations as there are people leaving. And not all emotions are on one side of the spectrum. Anger, sadness, happiness and gratitude often coexist, within the same household and the same person.
In this episode, my collaborator Ricky Moore and I have a heartfelt conversation with Keith and Caitlin Laschinger, the new couple who moved into Brown House with their young son.
Keith Laschinger told us he struggles with the issue of gentrification. He wants to be part of a diverse neighborhood, he says, “but at the same time, I’m part of a dynamic where I drive up the price of houses in the neighborhood.”
He added, “The way I make peace with it is better for Caitlin and me to raise a family here in the city of Cleveland and pay taxes here in the city of Cleveland and spend money. money in the city of Cleveland so that we can live in the suburbs, just morally.”
I also talk to other neighbors who have left the neighborhood about how they view their decision to move.
And I tell the story of Lean In Recovery Center, a sober living community proposal that attempted to open in the neighborhood in 2016 — but was turned down. Was this a case of “NIMBY”-ism, where privileged neighbors organized to say “not in my backyard” to a project they opposed for selfish reasons? Or, as local leader Abbe DeMaio told me, were their concerns based on the developer’s lack of respect for the neighborhood?
In this episode: why people leave, what they think about it and what the people who move in think of their role in changing the neighbourhood.
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