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Residents unhappy about modular housing project

Experts say that once a homeless person finds stable housing, criminal behaviours diminish

Marpole residents protest the modular housing project. Photo: Natalia Buendia Calvillo
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Reported by Natalia Buendia Calvillo

Fears in the Marpole community that a new modular housing unit will bring increased crime will be validated only if they reject their new neighbours, an expert says.

Once a homeless person finds stable housing these behaviours tend to diminish, said Martin A. Andresen, an SFU professor at the School of Criminology. This means residents around the temporary housing at West 57th Ave. and Heather St. — across from Sir Wilfrid Laurier Elementary School and Ideal Mini School — shouldn’t expect a huge spike in crime, he said.

“Generally speaking, criminal activity and police interactions tend to decrease as you provide housing and social stability to people that do not have it,” Andresen said, adding that crime rates will also depend on how new and old members of the community interact with each other. “If the people in Marpole shut those people off and not let them be part of the community then it’s more likely that they would have a negative impact [on the community].”

Residents concerned

Sally McLellan, a Marpole resident, is worried that the occupants of the temporary housing will leave drug paraphernalia and needles near the school.

“It’s more of a concern for the children, we don’t know who are the people that are going to move here. And that’s quite disturbing,” McLellan said.

Rob Murray, who lives seven blocks away from the construction site is concerned about the lack of social support services.

“The neighborhood is very light on support services, and for people that are coming directly from homelessness into this transitional housing, there is no nearby stuff for them,” Murray said.

According to the City of Vancouver website, residents won’t be left without support and will be “placed directly into housing with supportive services until they can transition to longer-term housing.”

An online petition started by Marpole and Oakridge residents has already gathered 1,465 signatures to stop the project.

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