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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora