The Wave of Gentrification in Dallas Changes Neighborhoods

Image by Spencer Selvidge

Gentrification is a fancy term for making room in urban areas for wealthier people. As part of the gentrification process, people are often urged to relocate to other communities so that the originally low-income zones can be turned into neighborhoods fit for upper-class residents.

Gentrification dates back to London in the 1950s, where “gentry” or noble people would take over poor neighborhoods. It has usually been a controversial topic in urban planning, and in Dallas today, it is no different.

Specifically, a neighborhood called Oak Cliff has been subject to blatant gentrification attempts recently. What was once a united community is now separated into a “North Oak Cliff” and a “South Oak Cliff.”

According to an analysis by The Commit, 2.2% of the total South Oak Cliff population is incarcerated, one of the highest rates out of any Dallas region. The median salary in the southern region is minuscule compared to the north, which boasts a median salary of $63,000.

North Oak Cliff residents enjoy private schools with high academic scoring, and outsiders would likely see a cozy “white picket fence” type of vibe in the neighborhood. Some property in Oak Cliff has risen in value by 3x, according to historical RedFin data.

However, Oak Cliff wasn’t always like that. Cimajie Best is a resident and member of “For Oak Cliff,” an association dedicated to giving South Oak Cliff residents both opportunity and equity. She says that the rising wealth doesn’t translate to South Oak Cliff, stating, “When people reference Oak Cliff, you really have to figure out what part they’re talking about because while it’s all one neighborhood, it looks very different depending on what part you’re in.”

South Oak Cliff has continued to struggle with infrastructure and crime. Residents like Ciamjie Best say that gentrification has started to take hold of her community, “They’ve been pushed out due to the area being ‘cleaned up.'” Loss of local jobs and housing seems to loom in the future of Oak Cliffs as a whole.

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