OPINION: Muncie: A hub for gentrification

Story by Kaitlynn Myers / Inform Muncie

Editor's Note: This story was originally published in December 2022

Muncie, Indiana, has had a rich history starting with being a hub of industrialization from 1870 to 1886. It was later home to the Ball Brothers Mason Jar company.

Throughout its colorful history, Muncie has been the latest spot for the gentrification of its South Central district. Gentrification is “the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process,” according to Webster’s Dictionary. 

For example, an old church in the 8/12 neighborhood has been turned into upscale apartments. These apartments go for $1,200-$1,500 a month. The average household income is $36,661 per year, according to the 2021 census. Nearly 30.4 percent of Muncie persons live in poverty. Many of these individuals cannot afford that high price of rent. The persons who can afford that rent are upscale hipsters who want to live near downtown Muncie. Most are college students or college-educated individuals. 

Ball State University and Ivy Tech Community college are located in Muncie, but despite the opportunities for educational advancement, 88.6 percent of Muncie residents do not have a college education, according to U.S. Census records. The town is becoming a hub for college students, but the locals do not have the opportunity to become university educated. That is not to say that a college education is for everyone because the simple truth is that it is not, but all should have an oppotunity to attend. 

With the ever-climbing economic crisis, more and more Munice citizens fall victim to homelessness. Despite organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Muncie Mission, the homeless population continues to grow. The city itself has taken steps towards putting in anti-homeless architecture. This architecture makes it harder for the already complicated life that the homeless population must endure. Spikes are placed under bridges where many homeless individuals seek shelter. Railings on benches make it difficult for individuals to sleep on anything but the ground. Muncie is not the only place in the world that does this. Many bigger U.S. cities with a high homeless population do this to try and drive them from the area. 

How can a city ranked number one as a most affordable place to buy a home have a homeless population? Too often, what Muncie does to make itself look better hurts the population already here.

Soup kitchens and community markets are a few of the places trying to provide food to the people of Muncie that do not have it. These organizations are not enough. Muncie is an affordable place to live, so let’s make it a place that is affordable for everyone, not just the gentrifiers who come in and take over the neighborhoods, driving up prices. We should want to help our fellow man. Everyone falls on hard times. Why should they be punished for not being able to afford the over a thousand dollars in rent a month? 

It is no wonder why people cannot get ahead. Many can barely keep their heads above water until the next paycheck. A job keeps a roof overhead. Those who do not have a job do not have a place to live. A paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle is no way to live a life. Individuals should not have to keep their heads above water long enough not to drown. It is an endless cycle. We, as citizens, deserve more from our homes. We deserve more for those around us. We need to help our neighbor and that person on the street holding up a sign

All Inform Muncie articles are written by students in the School of Journalism and Strategic Communication in a classroom environment with a faculty advisor.


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