Someone was murdered just 6 blocks from my house late last week. When we tell people that we’ve moved to the Downtown Eastside, their reactions are often mixed. Some have expressed concern, especially for the safety of our children.
I walked my daughter to church a couple snowy weekends ago and was approached by an older man wearing a “Jesus is Lord” trucker cap. We had just crossed the street and he asked me if I lived there–pointing to the clump of houses on our block. I said that I lived in one of them. He asked me if we were Christians and I said yes, not knowing where the conversation was headed. He did not ask for money or assistance in any way. He just said, “I wouldn’t raise kids in this neighbourhood.”
I didn’t get a chance to explain why we live here or how we got to live here. But I saw his point. He also didn’t get a chance to explain why he was in the neighbourhood. He looked the part of a resident of the Downtown Eastside, however that might look. I generally suspect people don’t have the choice to live here even though I most definitely do. Why he assumed I do have the choice to live here or not and that my Christianity might not be the very impetus for that choice we didn’t get to discuss. But I understand that living in solidarity with the poor and marginalized often excludes those people with small children (except for foreign missionaries in places like Nairobi and Bogota).
And now the point I’m assuming he had and the points of those concerned for our safety has been proven–someone was murdered on a block I walk my kids down daily. Except that when one considers that this murder, however tragic, is the second one in this calendar year in the entire city of Vancouver. At this rate, we might exceed the murder rate of the affluent Dallas suburb of Plano, yet with twice the population.
To be sure, there are reasons to be concerned with raising children in this neighbourhood. I do not believe that murder is one of them.