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'Gentrification Conference' To Address Questions Of Bronx Residents

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New development can be a good thing for a community, but it could also price some current residents out, and that's why a conference is being held this weekend in the Bronx. NY1's Erin Clarke filed the following report.

The telltale signs are showing up in the Bronx.

"There are small business owners in our community who cannot afford the rising rents," said Michael Kamber, co-founder of the Bronx Documentary Center. "Even there are immigrants, working people here who are having trouble making ends meet."

"More supermarkets, but also, we have a hotel that's been built down the street," said Danielle Jackson, co-founder of the Bronx Documentary Center.

The development boom is causing anxiety among Bronx residents, who want to know what it all means for them.

The Bronx Documentary Center hopes to answer their questions on Saturday at the first Gentrification Conference.

"If it's something that the community is not involved in in controlling the discussion, then gentrification is something that just happens, and the developers can sometimes really steamroll a community," Kamber said.

The conference will include a slide show and panel discussion that developers will be part of. There will also be a screening of "Whose Barrio," a film about the gentrification of East Harlem.

"It's a really good film to lay out a lot of the different issues, like how it affects the local residents, what are the dynamics involved in terms of real estate speculation, things like affordable housing," said Ed Morales, the director of "Whose Barrio.

While the conference itself is only one day, organizers and panelists want what's started at it to be part of a continued process of the community taking action.

"We have to be more proactive and get ahead of the curve and start promoting local economic development," said Harold DeRienzo, a community organizer.

Steps like gaining control of real estate and having local vendors hire from within the community to keep money from flowing out. DeRienzo says it's also important for residents to retain the culture of their communities when change comes.

"Gentrification is an outcome, and outcomes are not inevitable," DeRienzo said.

The hope is that if informed, the community may have the power to push change to happen on its terms.

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