Athlete’s Village Housing Co-op: A New Model for Affordable Housing

First Avenue Athlete's Village Housing Co-op

Athlete’s Village Housing Co-op

Vancity recently profiled my home, the Athlete’s Village Housing Co-op on their website.  The profile is part of the credit union’s effort to highlight ways that they support stable and affordable housing for our communities. Part of this commitment includes co-op housing.  Athlete’s Village Co-op is financed, in part through a loan with Vancity that allows use to pay of a 60 year lease on the building.  As well, the credit union provided a $180,000 security of tenure grant for co-op members.

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Here sore some excerpts  from the the profile. You can also download the long version of the story.

A new model for co-op housing

Vancouver has the dubious distinction of being one of the most expensive cities in which to live. But a partnership between Vancity and the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC to finance a 60-year lease at the First Avenue Athlete’s Village Housing Co-op is making downtown living a little more affordable for the average family.

The deal to finance the 84-unit co-op comes amid a tsunami of change sweeping through Canada’s co-operative housing movement. By 2020, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will have ended its agreements and rental subsidies with co-ops representing more than 55,000 units across the country.

Enter Vancity, which is taking its longtime banking relationship with the Federation to a new level by providing much-needed capital to co-ops to refinance leases and undertake renovations and upgrades to aging housing stock.

For Thom Armstrong, Executive Director of the Co-op Housing Federation of BC, the Athlete’s Village partnership was a natural consequence of that longstanding relationship. It’s even more fitting that it comes in 2012, which the United Nations has named the International Year of Co-operatives. Thom states, “This is a perfect time in our history for this partnership to be blooming.”

Another benefit of the partnership is that the Federation is able to provide through the Athlete’s Village Housing Co-op an independent, sustainable self-management model for the other co-ops in the province as they end their relationships with CMHC.

Quick facts about First Avenue Athlete’s Village Housing Co-op

  • Suites range from 700 sq. ft. one-bedroom units to 1100 sq. ft. three-bedroom units with 75 per cent of  the units charging market-level rent.
  • Twenty-five per cent of the units have below-market housing charges made possible because the City gave the building to the Federation at a lower cost. Below-market housing charges are based on 30 per  cent of gross income.
  • A family would require $1 million in capital to purchase a comparable three-bedroom unit in the False Creek neighbourhood.
  • All units are heated by the Neighbourhood Energy Utility, which extracts heat from raw sewage and  transfers it by underground hot water pipelines to the metered units.
  • The project boasts rooftop community gardens, a cistern system that recycles rainwater, onsite  professional daycare, and a courtyard playground.

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.