Developer Michael Geller, who often has some useful things to say, has flipped his lid over the problems in DTES. He claims the situation in the neighbourhood has become worse because City planners in 2014 would not allow condos to be built in a part of the neighbourhood. He claims that having a “broader mix” of housing would have made it more liveable and help local business. When I suggested that this would have led to displacement of the current residents he said “That would be fine.” I think we can safely assume that if they had been displaced to his front lawn that would not have been quite so fine.
There is no doubt that the DTES is a right mess, and I make no claims to wisdom as to its solution. However, I do know that building housing that is unaffordable to the local population is no solution to anything — except to fatten the pocketbooks of developers, their minions, and their rich offshore clients.
I have some alternative suggestions:
- decriminalize drugs, and thus remove police and criminals from a social welfare and health issue;
- bring in Universal Basic Income;
- expropriate all SROs and similar facilities and turn them into clean liveable affordable spaces;
- reduce police budgets by x% and use that money (and more if needed) to significantly improve health, welfare, education and training services.
None of this would be cheap. But if you think the present situation is affordable for any of us, then frankly you are nuts.