What does gentrification look like? For residents of the Boston community of Dorchester, the question is far from theoretical, with luxury apartments that look nothing like the neighborhood rapidly being developed. As the Boston Globe has reported, one billionaire investor, Gerald Chan, bought up significant sections of our neighborhood, including a 4.7-acre site near the Savin Hill T station, a 362-unit apartment building, and a two-acre commercial site.

A few years ago, a column in a neighborhood publication, the Dorchester Reporter, posed the situation as follows: “Displacement is ripping Dorchester apart.” And it’s not hyperbole. We’ve seen the impact of foreclosures and rising rents, forcing out many longtime working-class residents and threatening the multicultural fabric of our community. This is why the resident-led community group Dorchester Not for Sale (DN4S) was formed.

In a segregated city like ours, Dorchester remains a vibrant multiracial working-class neighborhood. In recent years, through D4NS, we have mobilized our community across race and class and succeeded in bringing a community that had long been ignored in city planning conversations to the table. 

Preserving our vision means advocating for tenant protections like rent control, and most importantly, pushing for real community planning that centers the needs of those most impacted in shaping the development that comes to the neighborhood. It also requires supporting community ownership of land through community land trusts and other means, so we can truly control our destiny as a community.

Read the full article about gentrification and activism by Carolyn Chou at Nonprofit Quarterly.