There was absolutely nothing surprising about yesterday’s story in the New York Post, which gave some numbers to prove that “hipsters”—as the author calls them— are really taking over Bushwick and driving the Latinx population out.
Although the Latinx population is still increasing citywide, in Bushwick, which has been predominately such a neighborhood since the 1960s, that population shrank by 13 percent in 15 years. The white population increased 610 percent.
What does that Bushwick “hipster” boom look like in numbers? That’s an increase from 3,207 to 22,776.
In general, the Latinx population in Brooklyn has dropped from 513,242 in 2015 to an estimated 505,183 last year—a 1.6 percent reduction, according to the National Institute for Latino Policy.
NILP president Angelo Falcón told the Post, again, what we already know: that rising housing costs, driven by gentrification, have driven lower-income Hispanics out of neighborhoods they’ve inhabited for over 50 years.
“[Gentrification] represents an existential threat to the future of the city’s Latino population,” Falcón told the Post.
In Bushwick, the battle against gentrification is a losing one. Even Councilman Rafael Espinal, who reps parts of Bushwick and has built his political career on fighting gentrification, recently suffered an embarrassing blow.
Last month, we reported on how a real estate company that specializes in buying “fixer-upper” homes purchased the building where Espinal works. When we reached out for comment at the time, Espinal said he had no idea that his building had even been bought.
The Post’s article, to say it again, shows us very little that we didn’t know about hipsters and gentrification; the topic is old hat. But pairing the increase in white numbers with the decrease in Latinx’s is a cheap trick that really doesn’t explain what the issue is all about. The article evades the question that Bushwick Daily often gets—but usually not in the form of a question—on social media: who is to blame?
Many blame the white hipsters for the rising costs of everything. Falcón, with a diplomatic tone, blames the city.
“This provides a disturbing window into the possible future of the city’s Latino population if the city’s affordable-housing program does not take into account community calls for much deeper affordability than is currently being planned,” he told the Post.
While there has been some effort by Mayor de Blasio’s admin to reach out to struggling tenants and offer assistance, the various programs inevitably fall short. And in 2017 when the price of a coffee will sting you $3, the price of Brooklyn apartments can only stay so low.
It’s been suggested that the impending L train shutdown will knock down real estate prices and potentially curb gentrification in Bushwick. This might be the only way, but of course, it will probably bring more headaches to the Latinx population than hipsters currently do.
If cutting off a whole subway line is the only way to stop inflating housing prices and keep more hipsters from moving to Bushwick, then there’s a bigger problem at hand. And if that problem is just gentrification—not a screwy society or government—what really can be done about it?