Vancouver city hall and B.C. Housing pass buck on Olympic Village delay
Four months after the organizing committee for the 2010 Winter Games returned the Olympic Village to the city, and nearly four months after city council determined half of the 252 social housing units would be subsidized and half would be market rental, all 252 of these units remain empty.
The city and B.C. Housing have yet to release a request for proposals for a non-profit operator or operators. Non-profits can apply to manage the social housing, the rental housing, or both.
City communications told the Courier B.C. Housing was to release the request and the city would comment after its release.
B.C. Housing communications said the request for proposals is being led by the city.
B.C. Housing said it hopes the request will be issued soon, but working out how to handle the rental suites, which will be leased to tenants who work in healthcare, public safety and public education in Vancouver, is taking extra time.
B.C. Housing expects non-profit applicants would have four weeks to submit proposals once the request is released. It didn’t know how long it would take to choose an operator, how long the operator would take to select tenants and when those selected could move in.
Laura Stannard, a housing advocate with the Citywide Housing Coalition and housing coordinator with Jewish Family Service Agency, calls the slow turning wheels of bureaucracy criminal.
“When council approved the half for social housing April 22, the public had two days to go over the staff report on that. It was a huge public policy issue and two days wasn’t enough time and the only reason why many of us didn’t make a big fuss about the lack of notice was because we thought they were under a crunch for the end of April so that people could move into those units,” said Stannard. “Somebody has dropped the ball and I’m pretty sure it would be with the province.”
Janice Abbott, CEO of Atira Women’s Resources Society, said the non-profit would have to see the request for proposals before deciding whether to apply. “My concern would be the market rental units and how rentable they are and what the expectations are around vacancy loss,” she said.
According to the city, 180 people have applied to the city for 126 market rental units. The estimated market rents to be charged are $1,601 a month for a 640-square-foot one bedroom, $1,902 a month for a 906-square-foot two bedroom, $2,096 for a 1,223-square-foot three bedroom and $2,368 for a 1,480-square-foot four bedroom.
“Part of my process in making a decision is trying understand whether folks who can afford that much rent will rent at Olympic Village or prefer to buy a house with a backyard in Coquitlam because I think at $2,400 a month that pays for a sizeable mortgage, depending on your down payment,” Abbott said.
She also wonders whether families or groups of singles would apply for the larger units. Abbott agrees the city and province should have been able to get tenants into the affordable housing more quickly. “It would be remiss to assume B.C. Housing is responsible,” she said. “There are often challenges when two bureaucracies are trying to negotiate something.”
Source: Vancouver Courier