December 3, 2016 is a day that I will never forget. It is the day following the tragic warehouse fire in an Oakland warehouse that claimed the lives of 36 individuals. What really struck me about the incident was the fact that most of the victims were around my age. Everyone was there to have a good time while enjoying one another’s company. Each party goer only came to bond over music and art. I have never been one to shy away from a party. I enjoy having a few brews while listening to some tunes and maybe even cutting a rug on the dance floor. I could never imagine being at an event where my good time was interrupted by flames, destroying the very place that I am currently finding such solace.
Once most of the damage had already been done, the building all but ashes, was when the finger pointing began. The media, which covered the story in the Oakland area worked tirelessly to find the cause of the flame, who the owner of the warehouse was, and if the building was up to code. In the days following, all of these questions were answered before many of the party goers ever found out if the friends that they attended the party with were safe. This to me was the biggest tragedy of all. Instead of helping the victims of this disaster many people were looking to find the person to blame for the tragedy when the true culprit was gentrification.
Gentrification has been a growing problem all across America. Throughout the United States people are having a hard time finding affordable housing. This problem is especially true for millennials. Millennials want to live in metropolitan areas because they will have the most opportunities, both socially and financially. Metropolitan areas, unfortunately, come with a high cost of living. This is where the problem lies, if people need to live in these areas in order to improve their standard of living but suffer in order to live there, how can they truly succeed?
Those who suffered in the warehouse fire were living there because it was the only place that they could afford to live. With California’s housing prices being some of the highest in the country there is no way that they could live in an area that is safe and affordable. The warehouse was not up to code for people to be residing in the building but it was either taking your chances there or being homeless. If faced with such a decision I would be glad to crash in a warehouse with some of my good friends, that sure beats sleeping being on the streets any day.
It has been a few months since this tragedy occurred and it seems like America has all but forgotten about the severity of this situation. Many millennials are living in dangerous conditions because they have no other choice. People living in major cities that do not earn wages high enough to afford adequate housing are often forced to take unnecessary risks while trying to find shelter.
While some are trying their best to survive others are moving into neighborhoods like Oakland where rent is constantly rising. Diverse neighborhoods are becoming more and more homogenous. Neighborhoods, where people moved because of their diversity are becoming increasingly bland since those who made the community into what it is today are no longer able to afford to live in them. This is a situation that needs to be discussed especially with the possibility of more tragedies like the one in Oakland occurring nationwide. When rent costs people an arm and a leg many are willing to do whatever is necessary to find a way to survive.