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Housing: a problem in skid row rehabilitation Gutman, Emil

Abstract

Redevelopment seeks to bring about a "higher" urban land use in declining neighbourhoods and often may result in the dislocation of local residents. Since the mid—1960’s a form of privately-financed redevelopment has been a salient characteristic of the Gastown/Chinatown section of Vancouver's skid row. The hypothesis initiating this study postulated that the redevelopment occurring in this area, has caused and would continue to result in large-scale dislocation of the indigenous population. To obtain a greater understanding of socio-economic activites and effects in the area, three features of the community were investigated. The first two aspects set the foundation for inquiry, while the third feature enabled an analysis of the impact of redevelopment on the housing sector. The first aspect required an identification of the social attributes of the area and its residents; the second element involved an accounting of the magnitude of redevelopment -- both in terms of the area's changes in economic function and in economic value; while the third required an investigation of what impact on the resident population has resulted from redevelopment in the area's housing sector. Four major classes of residents -were found to predominate and inhabit approximately 2,200 dwelling units in need of major repairs, or complete restorations. Existing services — both public and private were found to be characterized by ineffectiveness and lack of resident participation in their programs. The vastness and rapidity of redevelopment in the area can best be characterized by the dramatic land and floor usage changes from industrial to commercial. Further the market values of properties in Gastown/Chinatown have undergone great increases, as have assessments and taxes — used as approximate indicators of property values. The housing sector, however, has not been a conspicuous component part of these redevelopment changes. Though redevelopers have invested in the purchase of residential properties which act as the triggering mechanisms in a sequential process of redevelopment, the other outlined sequences (i.e., eviction, rehabilitation, rent increases, and change in clientele composition) have not followed. In sum dislocation has not been a prominent characteristic in this community, and the hypothesis which initiated this study has been refuted.

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