WXXI AM News

Gentrification Conference takes a look at Rochester's housing history

Apr 7, 2021

Credit James Brown / WXXI News

Resisting Gentrification: Then & Now is the theme for the fourth annual Gentrification Conference hosted by 540 West Main and City Roots Community Land Trust. The two-day event will be held virtually and in-person with a focus on the history of Rochester’s housing segregation and activism.

Calvin Eaton, founder of 540 West Main, says the event will educate the people who will be directly affected by community development.

“People can’t even know what options there are (and) how we as a community speak to these issues if they don’t have the education about why Rochester specifically looks the way that it looks,” says Eaton.

The in-person portion of the conference is Friday with a socially-distant screening of Clarissa Uprooted: Youth and Elders Uncover the Story of Black Rochester produced by Teen Empowerment and the Clarissa Street Reunion Committee  about redlining in Rochester.

Eaton says Rochester’s Inner Loop is one of many developments that was created through housing segregation. There are plans to fill the rest of the Inner Loop, but he says not enough questions are being asked about who will be most affected once that’s done.

“People who come into Rochester now, who move into that neighborhood, have no idea that they are literally standing in a community that once was a vibrant Black community that was displaced by a system,” says Eaton.

Former mayor of Berkeley, California and Rochester native Gus Newport will deliver a keynote on activism and public service during Saturday's virtual portion of the conference. Tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite.