Carnegie Community Action Project
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Dear Mayor & Council,
How should we preserve the Downtown Eastside as a low-income community?
Reason #8: Build on the current assets
The city has imposed a theory of “revitalization without displacement” on low income residents of the Downtown Eastside. This “involves introducing middle income households and workers who bring disposable incomes that support retail and a normalization of social behaviour and expectation” (see source below). The 75% of residents who are low-income had no say in this plan.
“Revitalization” has already begun, but it’s condo owners who are coming, not middle income and working households. Displacement is happening because land speculation in the DTES, and high rents in other parts of the city are enabling hotel owners to increase their rents to beyond what low-income people can pay.
Introducing richer people to “normalize social behavior and expectation” is a poor bashing concept with no place in a city that respects diversity. It can’t work, anyway, because people on the street don’t have the resources, like toilets, money, and homes, that condo owners have.
Some condo owners are organizing to get rid of low-income residents and the services they depend on. Gastown has become a dysfunctional community where the 70% of residents who are low-income walk by businesses they could never hope to shop in and get harassed by security guards in their own neighbourhood.
There’s a better way to make a neighbourhood healthy. You ask the people who live there what the strengths and assets of the community are. You stabilize what’s there and enhance the good things that are already working. This is the process that the Carnegie Community Action Project is working on. Stay tuned.
Source: Cameron Gray, City of Vancouver Housing Centre, April 7, 2006 “The Downtown Eastside: Who Lives There and It’s Role in the City and Region (yesterday, today, tomorrow, the day after, and making it through the night)
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