The gentrification debate is back on the agenda for Mexico City (CDMX) inhabitants. A tweet where a woman from the US promoted living in CDMX spurred on the city’s local population to discuss the gentrification issues experienced by locals.
Last week, a tweet posted by Becca Sherman sparked controversy and revived a conversation around rising housing prices and its effect on the local population. Sherman lives in CDMX while working remotely in the US and therefore earns significantly more than many natives. This allows her and people in similar positions to afford a relatively luxurious lifestyle. CDMX is one of the Latin American cities with the highest rental prices, ranking fourth after Santiago de Chile, Montevideo and Buenos Aires. During the last few years, apartment rents have increased significantly. Only between 2020 and 2021, apartment rent prices increased by 30 percent, found a study carried by Propiedades.
Gentrification is an urban phenomenon in which a neighborhood acquires greater added value, causing it to become more attractive to a sector of citizens with higher purchasing power, which encourages the development of new real estate projects that modernize the environment. This transformation raises the rent, forcing the original local population, having fewer resources, to move to the city’s periphery. This leaves the most desirable urban areas for the wealthy, which often includes foreigners and tourists.
In Mexico City, the phenomenon is mainly identified in areas like Polanco and Condesa, two neighborhoods that have experienced gentrification since 1985. These neighborhoods have become fashionable areas to live in, which has motivated landlords to increase costs of housing and services.
Mexico City has positioned itself as an attractive city for foreigners, who have a much higher purchasing power than local inhabitants because they earn more and in favorable currencies. Comparatively, they find in the Mexican capital a cheap and cosmopolitan city, where they can access an excellent quality of life. This, however, may be a far cry from the reality of the average Mexican. By the end of 2021, data from Vivanuncios shows the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in CDMX is MX$22,314 (US$1,084) per month. According to 2020 data from INEGI, an average Mexican in CDMX earns a salary between MX$6,000 (US$291) and MX$8,000 (US$388) per month, which is insufficient to afford the high costs of housing in the city and forces people to live in the neighboring State of Mexico.
According to point 11 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, every human being has the right to live in a sustainable city or community. For this reason, states must achieve conditions of inclusion, security and resilience for all its citizens. So far, no legislation in Mexico seeks to regulate the disproportionate rise in rental prices, while other countries like the Netherlands do have this regulation in place.