Editorial, Opinion

EDITORIAL: Boston’s gentrification hurts locals while college students benefit

U.S. News and World Report placed Boston at No. 18 of best places to live in the United States, according to its most recent rankings. For the city’s college students, it’s easy to understand why.

Boston is a city that everyone seems to love. If you’re lucky enough to meet a local Bostonian, their authentic accent and fondness of lobster will make your heart smile.

While walking around, you’re almost guaranteed to see someone sporting a Red Sox T-shirt and other Boston merchandise. Across the country, people boast Harvard University sweatshirts and Patriots jerseys. One could say Boston has a rather strong fan base, which is evident in its high rate of tourism. 

Jun Li/DFP STAFF

Boston is walkable, with a very accessible public transportation system. Even though we all have our qualms with the train’s deafening squeaks and at-times irregular service, which can be a hindrance on a busy day, we are lucky to have such an amazing transit system. 

We can even hop on the commuter rail with a $10 weekend pass and travel anywhere on the line. With Boston’s prime location in New England, you can easily cross state lines in a day.

However, you don’t have to travel outside of Massachusetts to have a good time. Within Boston is overflowing history, beautiful architecture and many unique, niche neighborhoods that all bring a different flavor to the city. 

The North End, Seaport, Downtown and Back Bay are all within walking distance of each other, yet have such different atmospheres. You will feel as though you visited four different cities in a single day.

With a plethora of green spaces and trendy activities, Boston makes for a great social scene, even in a pandemic. Not to mention the gorgeous, vibrant leaves in fall — it’s an autumnal heaven.

But, despite our deep love for Boston, this is the point at which we must rebut its aurora of perfection. 

Boston has enduring racism, horrible drivers, randomly laid-out roads and a ridiculous cost of living. The median price of a home is more than $450,000. For reference, the median is not even $200,000 in some of Texas’ major cities. 

As college students, our reality is distorted by the many benefits we are granted. Our campus is kept clean and safe at all times. Surrounding housing units are built for students and, as Boston continues to expand its college demographic, we only continue to gentrify the city.

Slowly, we have begun to push out local residents who can no longer afford to live in their generational hometown. Boston is one of the most gentrified cities in America, according to a study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. 

Boston is no longer prioritizing its residents, but is instead catering to the super rich and its student populations. Despite an average household income of $65,000, 20 percent of the city’s population is impoverished, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. 

Low-income households’ search for affordable housing has only become that much more difficult. College students are willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money for off-campus housing, so landlords spike rent to compete with the market, leaving residence in neighborhoods close to universities unattainable for locals.

Not to mention, young people and college students run the show. You cannot walk down Commonwealth Avenue or run along the Charles River without bumping into large groups of young adults. Campuses have sprouted everywhere, and often, locals won’t even cross the lines separating their community and ours. 

Boston’s growing population is also causing the city to run out of space. We will likely begin building our apartments and other facilities higher, but only the highest-earning demographic can afford that. In the process, we will also lose the historic buildings that add so much character and charm to the city.

While Boston thrives off its student population, the city cannot forget about the extreme gentrification and income gap hurting its local citizens. Students are valuable contributors to the city, but our being here also harms those around us.

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