A study published by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition would reveal that Baltimore was among the top seven cities in the United States when it came to gentrification. The study utilized data accrued between 2000 and 2013 of more than 935 metro areas within the country, dissecting the leading causes and effects of gentrification along the way.
Unfortunately, gentrification is not a new problem to the people of Baltimore. The issue has been contentiously debated within city halls for decades. But some real estate companies like RPS Solutions, led by Kevin Seawright, are looking to turn the tide by helping those most in need directly.
Let’s take a closer look at how Kevin Seawright is attempting to slow gentrification through advocacy and boots-on-the-ground work in real estate.
Gentrification Comes to the City
As highlighted in the NCRC study on gentrification, Baltimore was among seven cities in the United States to account for nearly half of the entire nation’s gentrification (2000 – 2013). While we may have a superficial idea of what gentrification is, for today’s examination we need to go one step further.
Gentrification involves the process of renovating, improving, and redistricting a house so that it conforms to the taste of the average Middle-Class individual.
While gentrification can ostensibly improve the overall quality of a neighborhood or area, it can also wreak havoc while leaving destruction in its path. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention defines gentrification as often shifting the racial or ethnic composition of a neighborhood through the development of newer and more expensive resources, including houses and businesses.
Other signs of gentrification can include
- Lack of Affordable Housing
- Large-Scale Redevelopment
- Rapid Increase in Job Growth
Kevin Seawright suggests that gentrification isn’t entirely a new problem for the city of Baltimore, and it is coming from an unexpected source – millennials. Seawright says, “A massive uptick in the younger suburban generation shifting to residing in major cities has been increasing average home costs dramatically.”
While we tend to think of gentrification as an issue with housing, it greatly impacts every level of living. Gentrification can lead to a host of health and economic factors that leave individuals struggling to progress.
Health effects caused or exacerbated by gentrification include
- Limited Healthy Food Choices
- Limited Housing Availability
- Shorter Life Expectancy
- Lack of Natural Amenities
- Underfunded Schools
Developers Can Make a Difference
As gentrification continues to unfold throughout Baltimore at alarming rates, people like Kevin Seawright are working to make a difference — but they aren’t alone. Carol Ott is a Tenant Advocacy Director for the Fair Housing Action Center in Maryland. According to research conducted by the Housing Action Center, Baltimore had the fifth-highest number of gentrified census tracts. Ott blamed current political leaders in Baltimore as the reason for gentrification, claiming that they’ve been working to “attract wealthy residents” rather than improve neighborhoods for residents that currently live there.
When it comes to opportunities for middle-class residents, they aren’t exactly there. Seawright says, “Affordable housing opportunities are drying up, leaving almost nothing for middle to lower income families.”
Specifically, advocates like Ott look to the luxury condo developments that have found their way into Baltimore. ott says that these city centers can dramatically shift the environment, causing displacement to take hold. Instead, ott suggests, the city should focus on creating community centers to incentivize the construction of more high-quality affordable housing. Essentially, Ott wants the city and its developers to remember the people that made Baltimore great.
Seawright believes that developers can make a difference by changing how they approach their work. Seawright states, “Our mission at RPS Solutions is to develop homes that remain affordable for middle to lower-income families.”
For their part, RPS Solutions offers dedicated resource support services for clients in middle to lower-income brackets. Seawright says that accurate and professional support is vital to help “make these opportunities available to the people who make Baltimore great.”
Included in their service offerings, RPS provides closing help, guaranteed home warranties, and counseling for new home buyers. The goal isn’t just to help facilitate a smooth transition into a new home, it is also to help educate and prepare homeowners for the life that they are about to begin.
Changes YOU Can Make To Stop Gentrification
To help inspire change, Kevin Seawright believes that developers should increasingly focus on adding more affordable units to all of their projects going forward. Seawright says, “Knowing that we’ve helped a family purchase their dream home, something they might have thought was impossible, is an incredible feeling.”
Of course, Seawright believes that everyone should have opportunities regardless of their dream home. He claims, “There’s no reason that working-class families need to be left behind as new construction takes place.”
Understanding that RPS has no direct sway over other developers, Seawright hopes to inspire others to follow in his team’s footsteps. Seawright suggests that, with luck and practice, the idea of adding affordable units to all single and multi-family projects could become close to universal.
Even as RPS Solutions and attorneys like Carol Ott fight against gentrification, there are going to be steps that the average resident in Baltimore can take to help themselves. Fighting against gentrification means taking careful stock of your credit and savings accounts. Seawright says, “Lenders start there before considering any individual for a home loan.”
Aside from working on your credit and savings accounts, Seawright also advocates for workers to live within the community that they operate. Adding directly to the local economy through housing investments can help the local landscape while improving the quality of the neighborhood.
Real Estate Developers Can Make a Stand
Still, Kevin Seawright understands that stopping gentrification has to begin with a long look at development practices. Seawright says, “Developers need to take some responsibility for the gentrification crisis going on in Baltimore right now.”
If he had a magic wand, Seawright would pass or otherwise influence legislation to make housing more accessible to those impacted by gentrification. Looking back at his affordable housing concepts, Seawright suggests that legislatively requiring 50% affordable income units in new multi-family units could make a difference almost immediately. Seawright suggests that this legislation would add financial opportunities to the city while investing in the local community.
Baltimore is one of the rare situations where gentrification seems to be striking both white communities and communities of color in equal heaps. By addressing gentrification thoroughly, Seawright suggests that these groups could be protected and prevented from abandoning their homes.
In the future, Seawright would adore the creation of a financial subsidy geared toward homeownership. Seawright suggests that every family showcasing financial prudence and creditworthiness may acquire a $5,000 grant toward owning a home. While Seawright knows this will do little to address issues like student loans, he believes that a national home grant option could still reduce strain and emphasize new home buyers.
About Kevin Seawright’s RPS Solutions
Founded in 2014, Kevin Seawright would open the doors of RPS Solutions LLC to a range of high-quality real estate services including asset management, property development, asset sales, and acquisition. Uniquely focused on helping to stabilize at-risk neighborhoods, Seawright and RPS Solutions LLC aim to foster healthier communities through satisfied clients and advocacy.