Black Picket Fences- Inheritance and Gentrification

I haven't touched on gentrification for a while, so here's a little somethin' something.

I shouldn't be reading Mary Patillo-McCoy's book Black Picket Fences: Privilage and Peril among the Black Middle Class, as I have a few wedding planning books I should be reading, but I am. I'm about halfway through the book and I think it is more about the Black lower middle class.

There was a chapter that took a look at the housing in the Chicago neighborhood the author was studying. The earlier generation of the 50s and 60s, the Raisin in the Sun generations, of middle class African Americans bought or built the homes making the neighborhood a middle class black neighborhood (change from a middle class white neighborhood). The problem was that generation got old. They got too old to maintain their homes, lacking energy, health, or funding.The following generation, their children, the few examples the author presented, failed to keep up their parents houses, and one can blame youth. Either they weren't earning enough, they weren't interested, or just unable to keep up the homes they inherited or were living in as their parents aged.

This made me think of one of the narratives in the gentrification discussion/debate (depends on volume) that gentrification displaces long time families. The problem isn't with gentrification, though it adds to the problem, the problem is inheritance and poor personal management. One of the examples in the book is of a young woman who fell into a bad crowd. Her parents were middle class but retired, so when they were unable to care for the place she didn't have the money nor interest (too busy on drugs and running the streets). By the time she cleaned herself up, grew up and became a responsible adult, the house had fallen into a more expensive state of disrepair. It made me think if I had inherited my parents house in my late 20s there would be no way I could keep the place up, and at that time in my life, the house was already heading downhill.

There is a house in my neighborhood that was once owned by a family, more accurately a woman. But she got old, and died and her son, who was living with her, inherited it. He was in no shape to maintain the place. And I'm just talking maintenance, not beautification. When you become a homeowner all sorts of crap (water heaters, roof leaks, furnance breakdowns, shifting, busted CAC) that your neighbors never see goes kablouy over the years, and it is all expensive. Anyway, he either wound up nearly losing it to the bank or was forced to sell it. It sold, to a white middle-upper middle class couple. The one who inheritied it didn't put in the same level of investment as the original owner (his parents). One could call it part of the process of gentrificaiton, as one group, if going strictly by race, is replaced by another. If it were a transaction between the original owner, the mother, and the new owners, the class part of it generally stays the same. But looking at it from the son, who lacked middle class security, transferring it to the new owners the class differences are stronger and it looks very uneven. But is it unfair?

Lastly, I also thought of friends who had middle class parents and became middle class themselves and inheritied homes/ property when their parents passed away. If their parents died when they (the kids) were pretty much established on their own, then that property was sold and divided among the kids and ex-spouses. The burden (taxes, maintenance) was during probate, but after the sale of the house, they were only burdened with memories. The one example I can remember where the parents died when the kid was still in college, she and her brother sold the property and she blew all the money in a few years. Say about 100K blown. Didn't have anything left for grad school.