'An increasingly bad experience': Vancouver man cites rising crime as reason for selling condo
VANCOUVER -- Ari Newman has called Vancouver’s Strathcona neighbourhood home for the last three years, but that’s about to change.
“It’s been an increasingly bad experience living in Strathcona,” he told CTV News. “I’m seeing an escalation of violent crime, I’m seeing an escalation of violent assault.”
He himself has been assaulted twice while living in the neighbourhood.
“It was out of the blue,” he said of the first time it happened, recalling being blindsided by someone looking for money.
The second time, just a few months ago, he was assaulted by someone riding a bike, again over money.
“I was stopped and, you know, kind of shaken down for money,” he said.
Newman’s negative experiences in the neighbourhood started before the tent city went up in Strathcona Park, but he says the situation has gotten worse in recent months. He listed his condo in the spring, and has spent months calling local and federal politicians trying to get action taken in his neighbourhood.
“There really hasn’t been any action,” he said.
Newman is far from the only Strathcona resident frustrated by a rise in crime in the neighbourhood and calling for an end to the homeless camp. In late September, concerned residents held a rally calling on politicians to find homes for camp residents and dismantle the camp.
While residents like Newman look to sell their homes, real estate agents are seeing interest slow in areas such as Strathcona, Yaletown and Gastown.
“I personally have listings in like the Science World area and Gastown area, so areas close to Strathcona, and we are seeing the spillover effect into those neighbourhoods too, where people aren’t as drawn to come and see those properties and the listings are sitting longer,” said Gary Serra, a real estate agent with Remax.
Since the pandemic started, with so many people working from home, Serra said he has noticed interest in condos dying down.
“The detached market is very high at almost 25 per cent. Townhomes are the highest at almost 31 per cent. And condos are sitting at around 21 per cent,” he said.
While anything over 20 per cent is considered a seller’s market, he said he’s seeing a large downturn on condos that’s resulting in an almost “balanced” market.
In neighbourhoods like Yaletown, which have typically been highly sought after, he’s says found buyers “steering away.”
“People like the character, they like that it’s right in the city core and the grit,” said Serra. “It’s gone beyond that now and people feel unsafe.”
Like Strathcona residents, some who live in Yaletown have expressed frustration with a rise in crime and violence they say started when homeless people who had been living in a tent city in Oppenheimer Park were moved into the Howard Johnson hotel on Granville Street.
In early July, Vancouver police said they had received “an overwhelming number of messages” from Yaletown residents and promised more patrols and new safety measures in the community in response.
Serra said the real estate market has largely stayed strong despite the COVID-19 crisis, and this latest “bump,” but action on homelessness in the city needs to happen soon.
“Maybe after couple of months, if there’s really a concerted effort on the city’s part that is really doing something positive, then, you know, people’s perception will start to change,” he said.
The City of Vancouver has voted in favour of spending $30 million on housing tent city residents and other homeless people during the pandemic. Mayor Kennedy Stewart told reporters Friday the city expects to move forward on the plan “within weeks.”
For Newman, he’s ready to move even if he has to take a loss in the sale.
“I don’t think I’ll get what I want just given what’s happening in the community,” he said. “I’ll get way below my assessed value.”
But it comes down to wanting to live somewhere and feel safe, he said.
“It’s one of those things were you just have to understand all the variables that are involved in it and then make your decision,” he said.