Gentrification: The Denver Experience
We talk about the history and politics of gentrification here on the CU Denver campus, as well as in the Denver Metro Area. Many news organizations and libraries have documented the ongoing disenfranchisement of the “Displaced Aurarians”—a largely Hispanic neighborhood “relocated” by the Auraria Campus, which houses CU Denver, Metro State University, and Community College of Denver. However, very few news sources have framed that notorious displacement within Denver’s larger culture of gentrification. According to a 2020 study by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Denver is the second most gentrified city in the nation, with over 27% of its neighborhoods affected by skyrocketing home prices and rising inequality.
We first interview two Auraria campus employees: Francine Olivas-Zarate, who is our CU Denver English Department Program Coordinator, and her sister Benita Olivas, who was an advisor and worked in the Women’s Center at the Community College of Denver. Their family members lived on 9th Street Park before the mass displacement by Auraria Higher Education Center in the 1970s, and both have worked on campus near their family’s original home. Second, we interview Dr. Jeremy Nemeth, Professor in CU Denver’s Urban and Regional Planning Department, and Dr. Brian Page, Associate Professor in our Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, about Denver’s history of gentrification and current economic effects on particular neighborhoods. Finally, we interview Laura McKenna, Development Director of HomeAid America, who discusses the impact of gentrification on the growing number of unhoused people in Denver.
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