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My landlord has started fixing up the outside of my house. Yes, house; I live in Brooklyn but I live in a real house, all three stories, on a little one-block street just steps from the subway. My landlord, always lackadaisical, spent money on the outside of the house. Fixed up the stoop, the concrete, the front and back door, put in a new fence. He didn’t spend any money on the inside of the house; it is still its dumpy, poorly-maintained self on the inside.
This plus the fact that the line of gentrification in Crown Heights is exactly one block from my house adds up to one thing: gut reno. Time to sell. I am convinced that I am getting evicted at the end of our lease in June.
It makes me want to die, you guys. It makes me want to give up. I hate that my role in this city is come in, take over a neighborhood, and price myself out of it. I hate that I am the wedge that lets rich people come in, that I drive out poor people of color, and then I put myself out of a home too. I hate it so, so much.
I want a home. A real home. I wrote in my zine a little about what my earlier home situation was like, but basically: rocky. This is home, the way I have wanted it – loud, rollicking, maybe a little sloppy. The kind of place where a whole beauty pageant can take shape. The kind of place where everyone is in and out constantly. A safe place for those I love. A safe place for me. I have the most beautiful room, even if it’s always a mess, and all this space, and places to put the things I love, and people who love me, and basically, it’s like heaven.
Well, heaven with crumbling walls and drafty doors. But heaven nonetheless.
The idea of leaving makes me sick because it means a few things. One, that I am going to end up perpetuating the same problems as before: I will go into a neighborhood, fall in love with it, and because I am a lower-middle-class artist white person, begin the gentrification process in a way that will end with me getting proced out again. And two, that I will just never have a stable home ever, ever, and I will be doing this forever. It is enough to make me want to buy something, or find a rent-stabilized apartment and dig my heels in. I want a home, a real home, a home that I will not lose because of the grinding wheels of New York gentrification.
I don’t know my house will get sold. I am preparing out of my own inborn sense of disaster, that sense that comes from having so much instability for so long. Prepare for the worst and be positively surprised, right? Assume that my home is at risk and prepare myself for it so that if it does happen, I’ve had a chance to become desensitized. It is so interesting to watch my roommates prepare to fight, prepare to stay anyways, and otherwise prepare to fight back for their home. Me? I’m already preparing to turn tail and slink away.
I am trying to keep an open mind. Maybe my landlord just decided it was time to do some maintenance (oh, how it was time). Maybe he won’t sell, or won’t sell right away. Maybe he will sell and somehow we will be able to stay anyways. There are a hundred things that could happen, and I am trying to breathe into the instability and my mounting fear and acknowledge the ways in which it is premature. I am trying to figure out how to make the home I want and make it permanently, inasmuch as anything is permanent, and maybe this will be a good kick down the path to my next thing.
I just wish I didn’t panic. I wish I did not play this role in gentrification of neighborhoods. I wish there was an alternative for me, some other way that I am not even sure of. I know there are amazing housing movements here in the city that I have not been a part of as of yet. Maybe it’s time to start getting involved.