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The ugly side of gentrification


Last week, a sticker reading "Poor people get out" was posted on a street sign in one of Nashville, Tennessee's growing neighborhoods.

Some neighbors are calling it the ugly side of gentrification.

"That sign is very hurtful to me because they’re saying poor people should leave, but this city is making poor people."

Raphael Crawford told our affiliate FOX 17 News that he was shocked when he saw the sign last Wednesday.

"I was astounded," Crawford said. "My heart sank just believing that someone was bold enough to post something like that. That sends a very negative, very strong message about how someone feels about those who are impoverished."

The sticker is gone, but a Facebook live video posted on Tuesday got thousands of views.

"I feel like they want us out of here," said Nashville Resident Angelica Johnson. "They want us out of here. They want to build this 'it city' and we're not part of that."

"That sign is very hurtful to me because they’re saying poor people should leave, but this city is making poor people," said Johnson's friend Kutonia Smith Bond. "Everything is going up except the minimum wage."

Like many older parts of town, new homes and businesses are rapidly changing parts of the city.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, Nashville is the ninth-fastest growing city in America with nearly 100 people are moving to the city every day.

A booming economy means more job and investment opportunities for some but for others it means being priced out of their homes due to rising home values and property taxes.

The median household income in Nashville has remained around $35,000 over the last five years even as the cost of living has skyrocketed.

Jennifer Derryberry-Mann owns a yoga studio close to where the sign was posted. She said she was disturbed by its message.

"In my heart of hearts, I would love to think that someone was putting it out to raise awareness about poverty to be provocative to try and help jar us out of the busyness of day-to-day lives," Derryberry-Mann said. "My fear is that it’s just the callousness and a lack of regard for neighbors."

No one is sure who posted the sticker or who took it down, but it has people talking.

"I think it absolutely has a lot to do with gentrification and the attitude that it brings that somehow we’re better than you...[you] don’t belong here because this is now our place," Crawford said.

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