Myths and Facts About the Downtown Eastside and Pidgin: By Diane Wood and Jean Swanson

new-picket-picture-copyMyth:  Diners will learn more about the DTES by dining in fancy restaurants that the locals can’t afford.

Fact:  Outsiders could learn more about the area by volunteering in one of the groups that are working for change and actually talking to residents who are living in the area.

Myth:  Local people will get jobs in upscale restaurants.

Fact:  It may be that a few people get hired.  But why should an owner be congratulated for hiring someone to do what’s necessary? 

Myth:  It’s important to have a social mix.

Fact:  “Social Mix” is a buzz phrase that is used to justify pushing out low-income people from the neighbourhood they feel comfortable in.  If it’s so important to have social mix why don’t we have more social housing, food banks and safe injection sites in Kerrisdale?  Living next to condos or fancy restaurants does not help people with addiction or health issues get better. According to CCAP’s research, these people say they need better housing, higher welfare and treatment on demand.

Myth:  Fancy restaurants will be good for the DTES because they bring money into the neighbourhood.

Fact:  They may bring money into the neighbourhood for an evening but the low-income residents won’t benefit from any of it.

Myth:  The owner is trying to do good in the community.

Fact:  Maybe the owner thinks he is trying to do good.  Or, it could be that providing charity to residents is a publicity move. In any event, charity will not solve the problems of the DTES.

Myth:  Without new high-end business, the DTES will become a low-income ghetto.

Fact:  A ghetto is a place that people can’t get out of, often, because of laws that restrict them to that place.  No one is saying low-income people have to stay in the DTES.  Many of us are saying that low-income people should not be pushed out of the DTES because of the higher rents and prices that come with gentrification. And we are saying that low-income people have built a community of compassion and strength in the DTES that is helping people get by with very little money and that this is worth keeping.

Myth:  Condos and fancy businesses will help low-income people in the neighbourhood.

Fact:  Condos and upscale businesses will not reduce poverty, unemployment, substance abuse, or racism.  They won’t help people with Hep C or people who are HIV positive. The services that help people who experience these issues won’t be able to afford the higher rents caused by the high-priced condos and businesses.

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