I blog about environmental and social justice issues because I am very concerned about the health of the interdependent web of life of which we are a part.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Affordable Housing

A presentation I made to City Council on rezonings in my neighbourhood and around the city.
Your Worship, City Councillors, ladies and gentlemen:

 I live in the City and  I am here to support all six rezonings - in particular - the two in my neighbourhood. 
Sadly, some  of my neighbours have, in private, expressed concerns that social housing increases crime rates and decreases property values.  They also siad that they didn't want "those people" in the area. My neighbours are completely  wrong about crime rates and property values - and I'm not sure who "those people" are.  Low income folks?  Single mothers?   Seniors?  
Affordable housing does not increase crime rates.  Many studies have demonstrated this fact. And to be sure that Kamloops is no different, I telephoned the RCMP.   While the crime prevention unit was too busy to provide me with a written report,  Constable George Buttles confirmed that crime rates have not increased in the vicinity of social housing units already in the City.

Neither do property values decrease.  Think about it - if lots in your neighbourhood are zoned for multi-family units, your lot just went up in value!  Furthermore, apartment buildings already exist in my area..  I haven't noticed property values tumbling due to those apartments.   Why would affordable housing be any different?

In fact, affordable housing benefits the whole city.   I'm sure construction firms and trades people will be grateful for the work in building those units.  The spin off from the  wages paid to employees will  certainly benefit the economy of Kamloops.

Secondly, increasing density is environmentally friendly - and is in accordance with our sustainability plan.   Another reason to go ahead with these rezonings.

Thirdly, experts on the social determinants of health state that reducing income inequality by providing supports to the lower end of the income scale benefits EVERYONE in society.  I've only got five minutes - if you wish to check up on this last statement, please read The Spirit Level:  Why More Equal Societies Almost always do Better by Wilkinson and Pickett.

Now to specifics re the Cooper street property.  I live in the neighbourhood and have never seen anyone using that property for anything but walking their dog. (Folks tend to play on the school fields which are green and mowed.)   Even if I missed people playing ball hockey, whose needs are more important? Ball hockey players ? or 16 families needing an affordable place to live?

I believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person - including those who need affordable housing.   Therefore , I urge the councillors to vote in favour of these rezonings .  I also thank you for giving me and everyone else the opportunity to express our views.

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