News / USA

Rising Real Estate Prices Remake New York's Chinatown

Ethnic Neighborhoods in New York's Chinatown Disappear As Rents Risei
X
December 31, 2013 2:20 PM
New York's soaring real estate prices have had a dramatic impact on scores of neighborhoods, including the city's famed Chinatown. The area in lower Manhattan was long a critical base for immigrants' families, but many are leaving as an influx of white professionals and students drive up the cost of housing. Rebecca Valli spoke with residents about the changes.
New York's soaring real estate prices have had a dramatic impact on scores of neighborhoods, including the city's famed Chinatown.

The area in lower Manhattan has long been a critical base for Chinese immigrants and their families, making it one of the largest concentrations of ethnic Chinese in the West.   But now many are leaving as an influx of white professionals and students drive up the cost of housing.

Enough blame to go around

Peter Kwong, professor of Asian American Studies and Urban Planner at Hunter College, says developers eager to build high-rises are part of the reason for the shift. But he also blames outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “City Hall [has] been doing this throughout New York City, particularly Manhattan, Chinatown is the last area that has not been gentrified," he said.

A report released earlier this year by the New York-based Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund says there is a similar shortage of affordable housing in Chinatowns in Boston and Philadelphia. The report found an increase in luxury housing and hotels, and a decline in Asian businesses as well as family households.

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg's policies are credited for a significant decrease in crime, and many of his supporters say that rent increases are a sign of a city's economic progress.

But in Manhattan's Chinatown those rent increases have already pushed many former residents out. According to the 2010 Census, about 17 percent of Chinatown's Chinese residents, some 6,000 people, were displaced from the neighborhood since 2000.

As rents move up, immigrants move out

Sun Meirong, has been living in Manhattan's Chinatown since she first came to the United States from her native city of Fuzhou in 1990. Her restaurant is close to Canal Street, the gravitational center of the island's Chinatown and she says she has seen a significant decrease in customers, mostly Chinese immigrants.

"In the past during the thanksgiving holiday for example, there were so many people on this street outside, you could not walk. But starting from about three years ago there is hardly anybody on the street anymore. This is the change we see in Chinatown.”

Sun says that many of her neighbors have been evicted from their homes after landlords decided to renovate the buildings.

"After that they just sold to developers without considering to give it to the people who were living there in the first place: immigrants,” she says.

For Sun, what is happening in Chinatown is counter to the ideals America stands for.

“The U.S. is a country of immigrants, but many immigrants get here and do not have a place to live or cannot afford it," she says.

Opponents of gentrification try to reverse trend

Grassroots organizations in Chinatown are fighting what they see as the gutting of their neighborhood.

Li Hua, secretary of the Chinese Staff & Workers' Association, says that her organization collected thousands of signatures to stop recent plans for more luxury development in Manhattan's East Side.

“We have been protesting against it in all venues possible. At public hearings, with the administration's planning department, to the city council. We had people participating at every step, not just a few but hundreds. But Bloomberg charged on, they just do not care.”

With a new mayor elect ready to step into New York's city hall, some are hopeful that the trend for Chinatown and other low-income neighborhoods in New York will be reversed.

New Mayor Bill de Blasio has pledged to narrow the gap between the wealthy and the poor in New York and expand the available affordable housing in the city.

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chinese American from: New York
January 24, 2014 5:53 PM
Given the uncommon success rate of first generation Chinese Americans and the high rates of home ownership of Chinese Americans outside of Chinatown, has no one else noticed the contradiction in complaining that ONE of the Chinatowns is being gentrified when no one is hearing anything from the Italian community about being pushed out by Chinese encroachment.


by: Chinese American from: New York
January 24, 2014 5:50 PM
Just remember that the garment industry in New York was not created by Chinese immigrants but they were employed as well as taught how to run their own factories by the original founders of the trade. That in turn fed the restaurants in Chinatown where it was not uncommon to see dolled up seamstresses sharing a meal together. They and their restaurant worker husbands sent their kids to college because of the garment industry that they were allowed to participate in. Now that's gone and many Chinese women are working as caregivers paid for by the government in assignments of varying degrees of difficulty and tedium.

It is ungrateful to complain about development that continues to keep the city alive simply because you feel insecure or because you have something you wish to protect but you are unable yourself to contribute on the scale necessary to effect a turnaround in the lives of many as Chinese lives have been pivoted by coming to America and finding work that at its roots we have American industrialists to thank for those livelihoods.


by: Chinese American from: New York
January 24, 2014 5:45 PM
There's nothing stopping Chinese from moving outside of Chinatowns and they have done so to the point of creating multiple Chinatowns in New York City alone in formerly suburban neighborhoods with waning Main Streets now booming and bustling. The one in Brooklyn's Sunset Park has now surpassed the original Manhattan one so read this article with a grain of salt. These agencies rely on government funding and rely on squeaking their wheels about affordable housing and racism to further their own agendas (and careers).

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid