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Exploring the Impact of Housing on Sustainability in Cloverdale BC

The Inequitable Affordability of Homes in Cloverdale BC

I wanted to look into my neighborhood in Cloverdale BC to explore how housing is impacting the ability to become sustainable and create an equitable and inclusive neighborhood. While some neighborhoods are designed around people, my neighborhood was designed around the vehicle, around the idea of how society and housing should be conducted. This has led to unsustainable systems which are reinforced by unsustainable behaviors of individual car use, fossil fuels to heat/cool homes and inefficient use of land. 

The neighborhood is made up of single and multi-family homes, with little diversity in ‘socio-economic composition’, every home is roughly the same price creating unequitable affordability Given the global pandemic this has amplified the inequities that exist within communities but has also stressed people’s abilities to afford housing and other services. 

In my neighborhood it is becoming increasingly more common that older homes are sold, torn down and a larger home is built on the property. This begins to increase property taxes of homes adjacent to the property, as more properties are redeveloped, prices keep increasing for their neighbors. Causing gentrification. 

This creates a disproportionate rate of BIPOC, racialized communities and other low incomes peoples unable to afford to live in the area, pushing them into other parts of Cloverdale or even into other parts of Surrey. In Chicago this is happening on a larger scale with creating larger developments after tearing down single-family homes, causing more people to come to the area and displacing the original residents (Charles, S. 2011, 2). 

If I had free reign to redesign my neighborhood and retrofit it, I would remove a lot of the older homes which would be torn down for single family homes anyways and create high efficiency, high density housing for moderate and low income (see Map 2). I would also create housing complex with services below to decrease the need to leave the community, decreasing vehicle reliance. All of these housing complexes would be outfitted with solar panels, heat pumps and grey water treatments to make it as sustainable as possible. The excess energy produced will be sold into the grid, that money will then be kept in a fund and the community will get to decide how to spend it, through a community event or a community initiative. 

Not only will this be able to benefit those who have been affected by the pandemic economically, they can give back to their community, creating more inclusive spaces and integrating within the existing community. It will increase both the economic and racial diversity of the neighborhood, allowing people to spend their money on other services than solely rent, increasing economic gain and creating construction jobs often held by lower income people.

Although my idealized reality would create a more inclusive and equitable neighborhood, but people in the existing neighborhood might not appreciate low-income peoples in fear of the social stigma, of increased property damage or drugs into the neighborhood. From a social geography perspective, people may not be separate their own thoughts from societies norms of how the city should behave, creating further inequity (Faridi, F. 2018). In order to create justice within the housing market there need to be a revisiting of how the city is designed to incorporate all peoples into homes and society.

There also should be consultation of people of the BIPOC, racialized and lower income communities, to see if they would feel safe or included in the neighborhood. If they did not, it would only further create a divide on both sides.Overall its easier said than done, but if not done we will continue to have the same problem until my own or other families are pushed out of the area to maintain a homoeostasis of high socio-economic status. By retrofitting existing neighborhoods to include a diversity of economic and racial peoples, it creates a complete more human centered retrofit especially in a pandemic. 

Please submit an individual assignment that builds on your group presentation. You can be creative with your approach to this assignment. For example, consider places you love and why? Or the social geography of places in a film you have watched? Or places you are uncomfortable in and why? Or look at how a neighbourhood is changing and will remain changed due to COVID-19.

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