Carnegie Community Action Project
401 Main Street, Vancouver, V6A 2T7
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Dear Mayor & Council,
Is revitalization without displacement possible?
For years the city has been saying that its policy in the Downtown Eastside is “revitalization without displacement.” As a result, it has been encouraging market housing there. The market housing is outstripping new self-contained social housing 3:1 and having ripple effect on so many things that low income people in the community need and value. Land prices go up. New social housing becomes more expensive to build. Business taxes go up and neighbourhood serving businesses and social agencies can’t afford to serve the low-income community. Rents escalate in residential hotel rooms, the housing of last resort for really poor people (see CCAP’s hotel report[.pdf]). New businesses exclude low-income people with their prices and security guards. A new power structure dominated by the new residents who have more money evolves. Some new residents work to stop new housing and services for low income residents.
Low income residents in social housing may not be physically displaced. But they become emotionally and financially displaced as the community hubs they depended on diminish and as stores become more expensive. Neighbours exist in isolation from each other or in conflict (see Kafuffle at the Dominion Hotel). Low-income residents who aren’t in social housing find there is no place they can afford and are physically displaced. Revitalization without displacement is really gentrification, especially when senior governments refuse to fund adequate amounts of new social housing to prevent displacement.
There is a better way. Stay tuned for CCAP’s mapping report later this month. It will give the city reasons to build on the strengths of the existing DTES community. And it will provide ammunition in the form of residents’ words and insights to help work for a safe, healthy, inclusive low-income community in the DTES.
This is the last Tuesday morning paragraph for the summer. Have a great summer everyone.
Wendy and Jean
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