Equity or Extinction? A tour of a community in jeopardy of gentrification

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -

As the University of Florida continues to grow, some Gainesville residents are worried the growth will force homeowners in historically African American neighborhoods out of their homes. Here's how a planned historical tour and strategy planning session Sunday was an avenue for community activists to try and fight for equity and against gentrification.

A crowd of around 40 people showed up for the Seminary Street tour where a Gainesville historian walked the crowd through the Seminary Street community explaining the rich history of who lived there and why their legacy still remains.

Desmon Walker is a member of the community who helped set up the organized tour and strategy planning session, she said. "This tour and talk that was designed to give us the history while envisioning future. We believe in development without displacement and that's part of the conversation we're going to have."

An empty lot in the community is among proposed sites for new student housing developments, developments many believe would force families out of their homes because of rising property values and taxes.
Kali Blount is a community advocate who explained, "we are seeing the 5th Avenue neighborhood, a historically black neighborhood about to be flipped over into a student community, a bedroom community for the university. A lot of people here don't think we should be shuffled around at will."

Desmon Walker added "there's sentimental value but there's another piece of this as well that is attached to nominal value and money. So when you look at what's happening in this area I think a lot of the residents who have been here for years want to be able to remain in their homes without skyrocketing taxes and things that will literally push them out because of the economic piece."

After the tour, a strategic planning session was held to find solutions that can be brought to city leaders to help those already in the community stay there for many more generations.