Olympic Village apartments to remain empty until November

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Cops, teachers, doctors get first dibs on units

Mike Howell
Van. Courier

Prospective tenants on waiting lists to rent the 252 affordable housing units at the Olympic Village will likely have to wait until November before moving in, according to a city official.

David McLellan, the city’s general manager of community services, said the city and B.C. Housing have to first choose one or more operators to manage the three buildings.

The deadline for interested operators to apply is Sept. 10. The city and B.C. Housing will then spend several weeks reviewing the applications. Once an operator is chosen, tenants will be notified. “We’ll probably be able to move people in by November,” McLellan told the Courier.

Half of the units will be rented at market rates and given priority to workers deemed essential to the city, including police officers, firefighters, public school administrators, teachers, nurses and doctors.

So far, 180 people have applied for the 126 units. The other 126 units will be available for people who require subsidized housing, including low-income families and people with mental or physical disabilities.

Prospective tenants for those units are on a separate waiting list managed by B.C. Housing. The number of people on that list wasn’t available before the Courier’s deadline.

B.C. Housing and the operator, or operators, will decide which tenants get to move in to the buildings. It’s not clear how they will be selected and the city is leaving the selection process up to the operator.

The city is also relying on the operator to determine when a tenant is no longer eligible to live in a unit. Tenants of the market rent units will be limited to households with a monthly income less than or equal to five times the market rent.

But if a rookie cop moves into a unit, and then after five years, gets a pay raise, would he still be eligible to continuing renting the unit?

That’s a question the city is leaving to the successful operator to answer. “We’re waiting to see what sort of responses we get back from the non-profit sector on how they deal with those kinds of issues,” McLellan said. “And depending on how well they manage them, along with the other factors, then we’ll look at awarding the operator’s agreement on that basis.”

A city report that went before city council in April estimated the market rents could range from $1,601 a month for a 640-square-foot one bedroom to $2,368 for a 1,480-square-foot, four-bedroom place.

The rate for a one-bedroom apartment is based on a formula that 30 per cent of the rent comes from an annual household income no greater than $64,040.

The PHS Community Services Society and the Affordable Housing Societies were among the organizations expected to visit the buildings Thursday before deciding whether they would apply for the work.

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