Carnegie Community Action Project
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Dear Mayor & Council,
Why should we preserve the Downtown Eastside as a low-income community?
Reason #7: Contrary to some what some people think, mixing low-income people with higher income people does not, by itself, create a better situation for the low income people.
In 2006 the City’s Housing Centre Director, Cameron Gray, wrote that “revitalization” of the DTES “involves introducing middle-income households and workers who bring disposable incomes that support retail and a normalization of social behaviour and expectation.” This idea that middle-income people will provide an uplifting example to poor people is not based on real evidence.
Much of the research done on this is in the US where the benefit of mixing incomes is thought to be that the low income people get to use the better schools and parks that middle-income neighbourhoods have.
In BC, schools and parks aren’t funded by neighbourhood. Services for poor people are not better in richer neighbourhoods because they are almost all services that require money and are not appropriate to the needs of low-income people. Even community centres in middle-income areas in Vancouver charge fees that poor people don’t have.
DTES problems, like drug dealers congregating in several areas, people peeing on the streets, open drug use, and the general appearance of poverty cannot be counteracted by throwing richer people into the mix. To be solved, these problems require decent affordable housing, adequate income and probably the end of drug prohibition. Only in a place like the DTES, with its strong history of community activism, can the real solutions to problems like this take hold.
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