Mayor to support 50/50 option for Olympic Village affordable housing

April 21, 2010 | Uncategorized

Mayor Robertson announced today that he will be supporting the staff recommendation to create a 50/50 split of affordable housing in the Olympic Village.

Staff are recommending that of the 252 units of affordable housing at the Olympic Village, 50% of them be dedicated social housing, and 50% be rented at market rates with the units targeted as workforce housing for people who work in essential services in Vancouver.

"Keeping half of the affordable housing units as social housing and half as market rentals strikes the right balance," said Mayor Robertson. "We need to keep our Olympic commitment to an affordable housing legacy in the Olympic village, and this allows us to do it. At the same time, we’re mitigating costs to taxpayers."

The affordable housing at the Olympic Village was budgeted to cost $64 million in 2006. The project went overbudget between 2006 and 2008, ballooning to $110 million – a cost that was revealed publicly for the first time in early 2009 by the current council.

"We continue to clean up the financial mess we inherited at the Olympic Village," said the Mayor. "Since coming to office we’ve helped save taxpayers $90 million through a new financing deal, ensured the Olympic Village was completed on time for the athletes, and put new cost controls and oversight in place. Now we’re finalizing the commitment on the affordable housing legacy that was promised."

Mayor Robertson said that the 50/50 option helps address housing affordability issues, and that by renting the remaining units at market rates, the 50/50 option will help reduce the impact on taxpayers.

"Selling these units off and using the profits elsewhere just isn’t feasible," said the Mayor. "We would be competing directly with the units that Millenium is selling which would hurt our financial position. We would also need to invest more money to get them ready for market. Finally, it would take several years to identify other social housing sites around the city and start building. That approach would not save taxpayers the funds expected.

"By going the 50/50 route, we can start moving people in right away as well as mitigate costs to taxpayers. This is the best option to deliver on our affordable housing commitments in a financially responsible way."

Photo credit: City of Vancouver