I Applied for a Gentrified Apartment and Didn’t Like It

Guilt and gentrification — upward mobility angst

4 min readMar 20


Photo by Freddy Do on Unsplash

I write about the Philadelphia housing crisis because the struggle is real and people need to know that housing insecurity doesn’t start with homeless or “unhoused” people. It starts with a lack of resources and support. Many people are pushed out of their communities when developers and investors buy properties and price the residents out of their own neighborhoods.

For example, yesterday — I went to see a beautiful but tiny 2 bedroom, 2 bath with a garage on Ridge Ave. That apartment was $1500. As I walked into the showing, a homeless man asked me for money. I felt bad because I don’t carry cash and purposely didn’t bring my purse. What was I doing?

While I could technically afford it — things would be tight and my view would literally be a low-income housing development right across the street.

I’m not sure if this neighborhood has one of the new trendy names like Sharswood or Brewerytown, but I walked away from the showing with mixed feelings. I’ve devoted my life to serving my community — who am I to think it’s ok to pay high-end rent in one of Philadelphia’s poorest and underserved neighborhoods? According to Census data, the median income for zip code 19121 (North Philly) is $32,344. If the average income requirement is 3x rent — the rental prices for that area should be $898. Yet, that apartment is 40% higher than it should be for that zip code.

North Philly (like the rest of the City) has a 22% poverty rate and violent crimes like armed robbery and home invasions are on the rise. There is a direct correlation between poverty, crime, and proximity. Violent crime is a health crisis just as much as it’s a quality-of-life issue. I couldn’t find crime statistics on Sharswood or Brewerytown — but Crimegrade.org gave 19121 a D- in safety. Therefore, it’s not safe or healthy to live in that neighborhood right now.

This is heartbreaking considering I started my career working at The Church of the Advocate with ECS almost 25 years ago and very little has changed for the residents except for gentrification.

I’m all for improving our neighborhoods — but not like this. Putting high-priced rentals in the…




Top Writer, matriarch, educator & advocate with bylines in Zora, Momentum, An Injustice!, Illumination, Creators Hub, etc. Community Builder #FoodieFridays