Gentrification in Ghana: Impact and Solutions for Affordable Housing
Gentrification is the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, often displacing current inhabitants in the process. Gentrification is derived from the word ‘gentry,’ which historically referred to people of an elevated social status. Numerous cities around the world experience the phenomenon of gentrification, which can have a direct impact on housing market dynamics. It is caused by social and cultural factors such as family structure, rapid job growth, lack of housing, traffic congestion, and public sector policies. Gentrification can occur on a small or large scale.
Accra has always had a housing crisis, which is a pointless one, I must add. It is a low-hanging fruit, and any government could have decided to fix it, but they have refused to do so. The Year of Return worsened that issue. We watched as poor to middle-class Ghanaians were priced out of everything. It was a gradual change that has significant impacts on our standards of living. When you price services, healthcare, products, and food around people who have more money and therefore more purchasing power, what you’re essentially doing is alienating the poor people who also already live there. You are showing them that they do not matter, and their needs are not important to you; therefore, they are not wanted there.
Gentrification can be solved through the following means:
- Create affordable housing for all incomes by developing mixed-income communities with a variety of housing prices that could include both single and multifamily units, providing housing choices for multiple income levels.
- Approve policies to ensure the continued affordability of housing units and the ability of residents to remain in their homes. The government should implement rent controls.
- Increase individuals’ assets to reduce dependence on subsidized housing. The government should explore job creation strategies and programs.
- Ensure that the new housing-related investments benefit current residents. Development proposals should be reviewed to determine whether the changes could cause displacement.
- Involve the community in providing input to the design and redevelopment of their neighborhood. Educate the community on their available options and create organized bodies and partnerships that develop programs to mitigate gentrification.