Gentrification Threatens Vancouver Sex Workers

This article features quotes from GSHI research associate Jill Chettiar and PACE's Brenna Bezanson.

Next City
Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The silver lining of gentrification, we are often told, is safety: As neighborhoods become wealthier, they not only get more public investment and better amenities, they also see increases in police attention and decreases in crime that will benefit long-term residents if they can afford to stay.

It’s already a fraught hypothesis. An increase in affluent white residents may just lead to more police profiling that disproportionately affects people of color. Falling crime might be spurring gentrification, not the other way around.

Now a new study out of Vancouver found that for at least one population, gentrification contributed to decreased safety and an increased risk of violence. Trans sex workers in the city’s developing Downtown Eastside are facing more harassment from law enforcement, private security guards and new residents, while being forced to work in more isolated, more dangerous areas.