Opinion: How we grew up | Diversity
When I first moved to Springs as a teenager in 1999, Powers Boulevard bordered rural land – there was the airport east of Drennan Road and a McDonald’s on Constitution Avenue; Dublin Boulevard marked the outskirts of the city. This was long before the city was featured on the top 10 lists of the best places to live or visit.
In fact, friends and family from out of town knew very little about Colorado Springs other than the Air Force Academy which is located here. They might have known that we were the home of Focus on the Family and, oh yeah, there was Amendment 2, a voting initiative passed by Colorado voters in 1992 that banned the state from passing laws. anti-discrimination protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
Meanwhile, you could get a newly developed three bedroom, two bathroom home for around $ 150,000. Many have taken advantage of the city’s proximity to Denver. Today, the drive from Denver to Colorado Springs on Interstate 25 is a continuous stretch of urban / suburban development, extending gentrification along the Front Range – and the housing market shows no signs of slowing down. Even at the height of the pandemic chaos, the fourth quarter of 2020 was strong if you were in real estate: the average house price in Springs rose to $ 371,300, up 15.2% year-over-year previous, according to the National Association of Realtors.
The region is booming, but with “urban renewal” comes gentrification – the process by which the character of a poor urban area is changed when the wealthiest people buy cheap properties, move in, improve housing and attract new business – but generally displace current residents in the process. Gentrification often means that early residents can no longer afford to live in the communities they call home, sometimes for generations. History rarely documents or displays these contributions to development, culture or the heart of a city. These contributions become more of a sort of urban legend.
Recent census data shows Colorado has become more diverse over the past decade as Denver has become whiter. BIPOC residents are pushed towards Aurora. Over the past 10 years, Five Points, one of Denver’s historically black neighborhoods created from red lines in the 1930s, is now the growing home of the wealthiest white residents. Neighborhoods that accommodate mixed income and diverse races and beliefs are great, but we cannot ignore the drawbacks communities face due to gentrification.
According to 2020 census data, Colorado Springs has seen its black population drop from 6% to 8.1% of its total population since 2010. These statistics also showed that black residents are moving to all parts of the city – Woodmen Heights, Banning Lewis Ranch and Cordera. . However, just because black residents are moving to other parts of the city doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because they want to. It seems people are moving to areas they can afford. Urban renewal often means an increase in property values and, as a result, higher property taxes. Hillside, a historically black neighborhood in Colorado Springs, saw property values increase by 35% between 2017-2019.
These trends are a testament to the growing inaccessibility of the city center and adjacent neighborhoods as the wealthy seek a “vintage” experience.
Real estate values are often set by those with the economic power to invest in these neighborhoods, not by the poorest residents who call this community their home.
The gentrification of our city is poised to make us the next Denver. But those pulling the strings – developers and politicians – could work to change community trends for the good of BIPOC residents. Opportunities to create diverse and inclusive neighborhoods abound, as Hispanic / Latino populations have also grown over the past decade and settled in historically black neighborhoods. But a deeper dive into the economies of these communities proves that BIPOC residents are struggling as their neighbors change. Which begs the question: have we desegregated or are our neighborhoods just perpetuating racist legacies?