Cities are known for bringing in jobs, economic growth and we all know a story of someone leaving their small town to move to the big city in search for bigger and better opportunities by at what cost are this dreams of success and are the odds put against people and their growth? Are their lines drawn and with so much rapid urbanization are cities and countries are prepared to take on these rapid changes. Ultimately cities that undergo rapid urbanization do not have the capacity to handle all the necessities needed to meet the social and economic demands of all people leading some to life of poverty and hardship.

Informal Community, Right 2 Dream To, Portland Oregon (Street Roots)

Rapid Urbanization has hit worldwide not just in the United Sates, and as urbanization rapidly increases so does poverty and the gap between those who have all the wants and those who don’t have any needs. Cities lay the roll of a seductive city waiting upon your arrival and is often gloried by many. In the New York Magazine, an article, “5 reasons Cities Are getting Better, and Everywhere Else is Getting Worse” by Kevin Roose is just one of many ways cities are advertised to get the attention and flock to cities. Commonly repeated ideas that claim tech industries are taking over and is where the money is creating stigma to lure people to come to cities unknowing that not all can make it and unknowing of the realties urbanization has created.

Not only are strategic planning and intervention major issues in agenda to manage rapid urbanization, but also local governments are not successfully involving the financial growth course to consequences for urban development and thus leading to housing needs. Although the tech industry has taken over globally and cities are the hubs of new innovations and ideas, because of urbanization cities are the centers of competition for basic resources for survival.

In the article “Urbanization and Slum Formation” by Giok Ling Ooi and Kai Hong Phua, we learn the effects of rapid urbanization and the effects on slum formation and lack of housing not adressed caused bby urbanixation. Like previously stated the competition for basic human needs are taken, Phua confirms this by stating that city dwellers all want a “room within reach of employment with an affordable rent, or vacant land on which a shelter can be erected without fear of eviction; for places in schools; for medical treatment for health problems or injuries, or a bed in a hospital; for access to clean drinking water; for a place on a bus or train; and for a corner on a pavement or square to sell some goods — quite apart from the enormous competition for jobs” (Phua). These basic human necessities aren’t guaranteed in large cities and cause many people to live out in the slums. Phua’s article clearly establishes that “one billion people or one third of the world’s population is estimated to be living in either slum or squatter settlements” (Phua). The rapid speed of urbanization has outgrown the capacity of local and state governments to provide basic housing. Instead of having infrastructure that can house everyone in cities, development in cities continue to house or build for the wealthier city dwellers. Cities have attractive local businesses and housing that make living in cities appealing, for example, in the case of Roose’s article,” Innovation districts also have what Katz and Wagner call “neighborhood-building amenities” — coffee shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, and local retail stores, all of which make them more attractive places for people” (Roose) even though the reality is that “development of new real estate comprising condominiums and shopping malls has led to “…gridlocked traffic conditions, severe environmental conditions (air, noise, and river pollution), unstable squatter tenements sandwiched between prime commercial complexes and high class condominiums, loss of heritage edifices, and neglect of human development.’” (Phua). Even in San Francisco these issues are evident. In a short special report produced by Andrew Stern in works with Business Insider called “Real Estate Wars: Inside the Class and Culture Battle That’s Tearing San Francisco Apart” Andrew Stern reports as we walks around San Francisco that “If you look at the skyline now you will see the score and scores perhaps hundreds of large building under construction so almost all of the construction I’ve seen walking around san Francisco luxury high rise condominium which aren’t really going to help most of the people who want to live here. Why are there so many building like that versus other building that might actually house more actual san Franciscans” (Stern).

Tent City, University Congregational Church of Christ, October 2010, Seattle. [KUOW Public Radio]

San Francisco although a small city compared to cities like Los Angeles “San Francisco’s unemployment rate is in the 3 % range among the lowest anywhere and in Oct. (2015) the bay area counted for 42% of California’s job growth even though it has less the 20% of the population”. This high congestion of people all living in one small compact city does not have the sufficient infrastructure to house everyone hence the tenderloin which is a known area popular for squatters in San Francisco. Space and becomes scarce and city begin to want to attract people of a certain financial status thus “In a situation of scarce resource allocation, the urban poor are frequently badly placed to compete for essential services. Biases in investment standards, pricing policy, and administrative procedures, more often than not, skew services in favor of the rich, denying the poor shelter, safe water, acceptable sanitation, minimal nutrition, and basic education” (Phua). As property and space becomes scarce as urbanization continues, the impoverish peoples of mega cities will continue to be marginalized by local and state governments in the ever so growing cities. Places like the Los Angeles Skid Row, San Francisco’s Tenderloin become more normal and a form of irregular housing.

What can be done to counteract or stop the issues that have been caused by urbanization are government services. Government services including state, federal, and local governments have the ability and resources to supply and aid those who need help attaining human basic needs as well as reducing costs and or regulating services so that everyone benefits not just the wealthy. In order to see changes of the effects of urbanization cities need to realize that urbanization has effects on housing, infrastructure and economic growth. A prefect example of what cites can do to change the course of urbanization and the lack of housing it has caused would be in Malaysia. Phua describes how in Malaysia the “private sector developers are more interested in building homes for the middle-income market. The proliferation of slum and squatter settlements shows, however, that planned economic growth has to be aligned with the planned development of health services, environmental infrastructure, and housing.” (Phua). By focusing on the middle class, who is the majority of people, most will be housed. Like previously stated by Stern, most of current housing is for the rich, thus kicking out those in cities who cannot afford the newly heightened rates. The middle class looking for housing takes lower income housing creating a domino effect of homelessness. Urbanization is causing for the loss of land and property amongst the middle class and those who are living below the poverty line. Another prime example would be in Singapore where there is a very successful housing program that has taken many off the street and providing housing for many despite the rapid urbanization that has changed Singapore into a mega-city. “Singapore’s highly successful public housing program, which provides homes for 85% of the population, has been an important aspect of its planned urbanization strategy for economic development.” (Phua). Phua explains that in Singapore the focus is in Public housing estates and when “Public housing estates were first developed in and around the fringes of the central area. These not only reduced the dislocation of the households being resettled but also obviated the necessity for the public housing authority to provide an exhaustive list of estate facilities to meet everyday needs of the people being resettled.

Homeless man, Los Angeles, August 2009. [Terabass/Commons]

Many resettlement programs have failed because of the virtual banishment of the low-income households to distant locations often outside of the city altogether” (Phua). By focusing of the center of cities versus the outskirts, programs and resources that aid cities can also aid those who have low incomes as well as those living under the poverty line. The difficulty of resources and housing further from the city only complicates the issues of urbanization because then it just seems as if they are keeping the low-income people outside the city. People who serve the city should live in the city. To add, “Low-income segments of the urban population are unlikely to afford the increasing costs of housing in rapidly growing cities unless there is a provision for such affordable housing by the city government, given the economic growth that is being planned” (Phua).

Now although these are focused oversees, these efforts have significantly reduced the need for housing and basic human necessities that everyone deserves to have. Now with that said, San Francisco has tried to make efforts to combat the rapid urbanization that has made San Francisco a mega-city that only wants selective people to live in its city. As previously stated before, all around San Francisco constructions can be seen, but the construction being done is only for those who are wealthy kicking out many of San Franciscans residents that have been living there for years. How is it that this could occur? According to Stern “Developers have requirements set that they must either set aside a percentage of each project for affordable housing, build a corresponding amount of affordable housing within a mile radius, or pay a large fee to the city the last of which many opts to do” (Stern). Development companies can afford to opt for the second choice so that they don’t have to allow low-income people to live with the wealthy. Urbanization has caused for expansion in the city but not for everyone, only for those who are economically advantaged. Although there are these issues in the city of San Francisco, organizations like TD and C are putting efforts to make a difference in cities like San Francisco to have affordable housing for everyone. Even though TD and C is not a government program, governments can learn for these examples so that there can be a bigger impact across the country. TD and C claims that “Directly across a parking lot where we aspire to build an eight story building that will house 110 families that will all pay affordable rent. We want at TD and C we want people who when they walk into our buildings they feel like I’m home and this is a safe place, its warm” (Stern) if Governments would take charge those 110 can turn into millions.

Even though Rooses’ claims are true that cities are the centers of innovation and creativity that is making changes to turn the world modern, Roose does not discuss or acknowledge the ever so growing damages that Urbanization has caused like lack of housing for many. Cities around the world are having major impacts caused by urbanization that have been ignored or hidden in order for benefactors like development companies can continues to make millions despite putting many on the street. If governments local, state, and federal, would take control in resources and programs as well as regulating companies that only benefit the rich, cities can counteract the negative effects from urbanization without moving backwards creating a modern and just world.

Works Cited

Businessinsider. “Real Estate Wars: Inside the Class and Culture Battle That’s Tearing San Francisco Apart.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 Feb. 2016. Web. 23 May 2017.

Ooi, Giok Ling, and Kai Hong Phua. “Urbanization and Slum Formation.” SpringerLink. Springer US, 27 Mar. 2007. Web. 23 May 2017.

Roose, Kevin. “5 Reasons Cities Are Getting Better, and Everywhere Else Is Getting Worse.” Daily Intelligencer. New York Magazine, 10 June 2014. Web. 23 May 2017.

My name is Karina Lazo and I am currently a second year student at SFSU. I am a communications major and I want to be more self aware about the world around me.