For a century or more, small, locally-owned businesses have been the economic, and even social, cornerstones for hundreds of urban neighborhoods around the country. Now, these cornerstones are being threatened by rapidly-rising rents from the large real estate firms that own the properties – rents that are increasing so much, largely as a result of gentrification of these neighborhoods, that many of these small businesses can no longer afford to pay them.

New York City is a particular hotbed of this activity, largely as a result of gentrification trends. According to, the city's court system currently warrants storefront evictions at the rate of almost 500 per month. The site highlighted the plight of one business in particular, Jesse's Deli, in the Boerum Hill neighborhood, which is on the brink of being forced out as a result of its rent being increased from $4,000 a month to $12,000 a month. "Commercial rents in our city in neighborhoods like Boerum Hill or Greenpoint/Williamsburg are forcing out small independent businesses," said Stephen Levin, a Northern Brooklyn city councilman. "Jesse's is a perfect example."

A local New York City paper, Bedford & Bowery, noted that "sky-high rent hikes and unfair lease agreements are putting local stores out of business."

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