Topic Proposal

The topic I will focus on centers on the effects of gentrification in low-income neighborhoods. The prime example I intend to use will be Chinatown, a relatively sizable community that consists of two major groups of Chinese immigrants: the Cantonese and Fujianese populations. During the mid-1900s, Chinatown grew from a reasonably small Chinese neighborhood that consisted of low-income families to an ever-growing region that now encompasses a significant portion of Lower Manhattan. With a strong presence of middle and low-income Chinese residents, a major concern nowadays is the influx of high-income families into the neighborhood. While many old immigrants have resided in the area long enough to receive rent-stabilization benefits, a substantial majority are now seeing an increase in housing prices. In effect, the increasing gentrification of Chinatown is pushing many Chinese immigrants away from the neighborhood, thereby also devaluing the culture that has, for so long, governed the area.

In order to work on this issue, I plan to rely heavily on census statistics and speak to community officials who are familiar with the current gentrification of Chinatown. If possible, I would also like to interview low-income families who are currently being affected by the lack of housing affordability within the neighborhood. The purpose of referring to statistics and interviewing families is to give various perspectives of the situation itself. Doing so will allow me to educate my audience while also connecting to them on a personal level. However, I still think the major obstacle I anticipate on confronting is the language barrier. Because a majority of the residents in Chinatown know limited English, it may be difficult to extract a concrete and reliable story from them. Certain stories might be mistranslated in the process.

The major source and organization that I intend to contact will be the Greater Chinatown Community Association. The GCCA is an institution that provides services for the betterment of the Chinatown community. Over the years, the organization has been actively involved in the neighborhood and has offered programs in adult education, medicine, recreation, and consultation. It also assists immigrants with affordable housing and helps address various issues that plague the area.

In short, my purpose in focusing on the effects of gentrification is to raise awareness about the lack of affordable housing that has come as an inevitable consequence. The project itself will most likely target landlords who have, too often, capitalized on the growing migration of wealthy families into Chinatown. By raising rent of lease prices, these landlords put Chinatown at the risk of losing its very culture. Many residents within the neighborhood depend on affordable housing as a means of survival. Without this benefit, these residents will migrate to other areas and bring their culture with them. By educating the public about the effects of gentrification in low communities such as Chinatown, I hope that more people are conscious about the social change that is gradually taking place in these areas. In effect, going to the public to socially shame these money-hungry landlords will add more pressure to stabilize rent prices and provide a better living for the less fortunate.

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2 Responses to “Topic Proposal”

  1.    sjang103 Says:

    Hey Justin,
    Your topic proposal is really detailed and organized. :] I think you have everything covered and you thought all things through. I hope there will be a rise in awareness and a preservation of culture.

  2.    Todd Says:

    I definitely agree with your topic proposal and it is very thought out. The only thing I would suggest is try to focus more in single individuals. While census data and statistics will certainly provide those you write to with a nice foreground on the issue, I think it will be the individuals you address that carry your point home.

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