Resources

About the Downtown Eastside

Demographics (from DTES implementation summary 2017-2018)

  • 21,140 residents (2023)
  • $36,779 Median income (NHS 2011, Census 2016), compared to city-wide median income $82,000.
    • Income distribution (2011-2016) shows an increase in high income earners and decrease in lowest income bracket (below $20,000), which suggests increased displacement of lower-income residents from the area and an influx of higher income residents over time
    • >54% of the DTES population (7,560) have income of $0 to $19,999
  • 52% of Vancouver’s unsheltered individuals live in the DTES (2020 Metro Vancouver Homelessness Count)
  • Diverse Indigenous, racial and cultural groups
    • Almost 10% identify as Indigenous, compared to 2% city-wide
    • 39% of DTES residents are members of a racialized group, including a proportionately large Black population
    • 39% of DTES residents were born outside of Canada

COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

“Community Economic Development (CED) is action by people locally to create economic opportunities that improve social conditions, particularly for those who are most disadvantaged.”

Five basic principles of CED:*

  • Livelihoods Focused
  • Diverse & Inclusive
  • Sustainable
  • Place-Based
  • Community Controlled

CED definition courtesy the Canadian CED Network

LIVELIHOODS CONTINUUM

The Livelihoods Continuum sees the economy as a non-linear spectrum of various income and employment opportunities. The Continuum reframes the concept of traditional employment, mostly seen as full-time, 9-5 job, and replaces our understanding with the idea that employment and income generation can happen in a multitude of ways, whether task-based, supported, irregular hours, survival work, and more. 

Recognizing that many people have barriers to employment, whether housing instability, mental health, substance use, or other disabilities, the Livelihood Continuum recognizes and legitimizes various means of low-barrier income generation opportunities, and allows for a wide spectrum of meaningful employment.

RESOURCES

There are numerous reports/research that are relevant to the community economic development work of Exchange Inner City.

There is no shortage of research in the DTES. Sometimes research can be helpful, especially when done respectfully in true collaboration with the community. But research can also hurt… Research can increase inequality, contribute to stigma, exploit peoples’ pain, exhaust community members and typically benefits researchers much more than it benefits the DTES.” Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside is a set of guidelines “for university researchers (and other people coming from outside the DTES community) to treat communities like the DTES with the respect and dignity they deserve, and expect.”

“There is no shortage of research in the DTES. Sometimes research can be helpful, especially when done respectfully in true collaboration with the community. But research can also hurt… Research can increase inequality, contribute to stigma, exploit peoples’ pain, exhaust community members and typically benefits researchers much more than it benefits the DTES.” Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside is a set of guidelines “for university researchers (and other people coming from outside the DTES community) to treat communities like the DTES with the respect and dignity they deserve, and expect.”