Who makes good neighbours? What makes a strong neighbourhood? Should every one be the same, in order to fit in? Some Edmontonians are wary of affordable or social housing projects. However, studies don’t support the fears of ‘social housing’. Reports conclude that the vast majority of facilities operate without harming the safety of neighbourhoods or dragging down property values. The Vancouver Sun recently researched whether neighbourhoods were indeed less desirable when including social housing components. What they found was a large amount of research showing no evidence of real estate values plummeting or crime rising near social housing facilities. Academics, city planners and people involved in running these facilities all pointed to similar ample evidence.
Seniors, the ill or disabled, those on low income or people recovering from abuse or addictions are usually more vulnerable members of society than average. These residents in social housing are far more likely to be victims of crimes than to be the ones causing crime. Agencies do carefully screen for potential residents. Many area residents are even unaware that social housing exists in their area, and in many cases they can’t tell those social housing residents from anyone else in the area.
In Canada we have a history of making very diverse neighbourhoods work well. One sees a pattern of neighbourhood opposition to new social housing projects before anyone moves in. Then, in most cases, the opposition dries up once the new residents arrive and they become just neighbours who fit in along with everyone else. There may be some exceptions to this, but I maintain that solutions can be found in almost all cases.
One hopes that as Edmonton meets the challenge of housing our citizens, we are able to find ways to effectively integrate the new residents into healthy neighbourhoods. In some cases this takes a bit of time, as we find more innovative solutions for making our neighbourhoods work well. Always, I want to hear from you with your positive suggestions for our city.