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Orchard Park: a tenant survey of the second installment of public housing in Vancouver (December 1958-May 1960) Reid, Ella Mary

Abstract

The Orchard Park Housing Project, first tenanted in December 1958 is the second instalment of subsidized housing in Vancouver. Also managed by the Vancouver Housing Authority under the sanction of federal, provincial and municipal governments, it is the sister project to "Little Mountain", the public housing project situated at Main Street and 33rd Avenue, Vancouver. This project has been the subject of a previous survey (Elaine Fromson, Joy Hansen, and Roger Smith: The Little Mountain Low-Rental Housing Project: A Survey of its Welfare Aspects.) An important similarity to the Little Mountain project is that Orchard Park, too, was constructed without direct involvement with slum-clearance; in other words, the people here re-housed were drawn from many different locations to a new site. This study attempts to analyse, from the tenants’ point of view, the efficacy with which their various "welfare" needs are being met by the provision of publicly-owned housing; the ramifications of project-community relations; and the administrative implications of the entire undertaking. This information was obtained by means of interviews (a one-in-three sampling of the tenant population), averaging approximately one hour in length. Proportional samples of the tenant "categories" were obtained, with regard to (a) types of family ("complete" families, "broken" families, "single" occupants) and (b) income groups. An overall statistical picture, for comparison, was derived from the registration files of the Vancouver Housing Authority. Tenant reactions varied greatly depending partially upon previous housing experience; but the provision of new, bright, and clean surroundings, with adequate heat and hot water, was hailed with virtual unanimity. However, several areas of concern are outstanding (1) No appropriately planned facilities for children exist; (2) initial laundry arrangements were unsatisfactory; (3) the layout of Orchard Park includes three "through" streets, a hazard to both young and old; and, (4) so far as space and facilities are concerned, absolutely no provision has been made for tenant gatherings. The growing proportion of lower-income families, and also of multi-problem families in local public housing is vital in the implications of this study, which are discussed fully in Chapter IV. It is clear that not only further research, but more attention to "welfare practicalities" is essential, if present deficiencies are to be avoided in the future.

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