“Denver Leads the Nation in Hispanic Displacement From Gentrification”
That’s the headline of an article published by Westword on March 20, 2019 that analyzes the key takeaways from “Shifting Neighborhoods,” a new report from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Anyone who lives in Denver can tell you that gentrification is in full swing in neighborhoods across the city and this report focuses on the involuntary displacement taking place, especially among minority populations, as a result of that gentrification.
Westwood, the neighborhood where Mi Casa Resource Center’s headquarters are located, is a case in point, emphasized Monique Lovato, CEO. “This neighborhood has historically been populated by Latinos, Vietnamese, Koreans, Chinese immigrants. But Westwood is also vulnerable to gentrification and involuntary displacement, because it has had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the state. According to the task force I sit on, one in six homes in Westwood has been turned over – flipped or renovated, either moderately or completely, and sold as a result of the foreclosure crisis. So we have people who have lost their homes or struggled to stay in them – and then the flippers came in.”
When Mi Casa moved to this Southwest Denver neighborhood in 2017, “we brought a free legal clinic, job training, small business services and development,” says Lovato.
“Our organization is part of what we see as a mitigation strategy, in that we help people to find better jobs and to help them start and build businesses so they can be more economically sustainable. And we happen to work with a lot of the populations that are finding themselves pushed out of traditionally low-income neighborhoods or neighborhoods that have a high population of Latinos, refugees, and immigrants. We try to help people be more resilient, so they have a choice if they want to leave, but they’re not being forced out.”
There is still a lot of work to be done to mitigate involuntary displacement, especially as “opportunity zones” become a key focus in Colorado and across the country. Mi Casa and other community organizations are committed to ensuring that when investment comes into a neighborhood, it builds wealth in the community rather than stripping wealth from the low- and moderate-income families who live there.