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The voices of Maple Ridge: Applying community-driven design methods to reduce the social stigma of homelessness

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Homelessness in the Greater Vancouver region is being responded to with diverse approaches. However, there has not been a great deal of focus on how those living with homelessness experience stigma and marginalization; the effects of that marginalization on individuals and communities; and effective strategies to reduce these impediments to progress and healing. This thesis investigates the experience and expression of stigma related to homelessness in the suburb of Maple Ridge, British Columbia and how that stigma might be mitigated. The community of Maple Ridge has been deeply divided on how to respond to homelessness. There is a marked rift between those who believe homelessness is a problem imported from other regions, driven by addiction alone, and therefore not an appropriate challenge for Maple Ridge to address, and those who regard people experiencing homelessness as legitimate citizens of their neighbourhood who should be treated with dignity and compassion. Methods used in the field of design involve collaboration and co-creation in novel ways that can integrate disparate views. This thesis reports results of a design-driven community intervention addressing stigma related to homelessness. Results are interpreted in support of the further use of design and co-creation to progress beyond common impasses involving the development of responses to homelessness.
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