It’s the end of ‘’Gregor’s decade.’’ Are we standing at the possible threshold of a new era in […]
Up until recently, Pam Burge was one of the few remaining tenants in the city’s Olympic Village social housing on False Creek. Since moving into the Olympic Village almost two years ago, problems with rent, utility bills and tenancy rights accumulated “without end.” Burge has been forced out of her housing in a post-Olympic drama containing many lessons but little in the way of answers and accountability.
Burge had been living in her one-bedroom apartment at 80 Walter Hardwick in the Olympic Village since April of 2011. The building is one of three city-owned buildings in the Olympic Village managed by COHO property management. The same company also manages The Athletes Village Housing Coop and 121 Walter Hardwick. All of these buildings are meant to provide a mix of market housing and non-market housing for low-income tenants. However, Burge states that a mix of housing simply does not exist in her former community: “There is no social housing at the Olympic Village.” Most of the units are more suited to higher income tenants, according to Burge, and she estimated that there were only about five tenants, including herself, who were “genuinely in core need of social housing.” However, she said that these tenants were in the process of being “forced out.”
London’s 2012 Olympic Games housing legacy is undeniable. It is a legacy of evictions, displacement, gentrification and social cleansing. The ever-worsening housing crisis has become a money-spinning ballast as collusion with property developers yields state-led displacement on a grand scale.
In the district of Newham, where Londoners are paying rent to live in sheds, displacement is rampant and the affordable housing shortage is about to worsen. At the Carpenters Estate, home to hundreds of families, residents are now being served notice by Newham Council to make way for University College London’s £1bn University campus expansion. After having their fees trebled in 2011, students will now continue accumulating debt while funding the real-estate financing schemes of UCL management. Student resistance, joined with the tenants of Carpenters Estate, has been persistent and militant, with public demonstrations, a recent exhibition at UCL’s Print Room Cafe, student tours of the estate, and an occupation at UCL’s Bloomsbury campus.
* Photo credit: David Vaisbord, The Little Mountain Project *
An updated Little Mountain Policy is coming to Vancouver City Council today, June 27 2012. The most notable issue is that the developer, Holborn, is now openly challenging the cornerstone of the project: that the proceeds of the land sale should fund the 224 ‘replacement’ social housing units onsite.
In 2007, the City and the Province agreed that ‘replacement’ social units — to house the 600 people dislocated by the Little Mountain demolition — would be funded from the sale of the land to a developer. The language in the agreement was unambiguous: “Whether the Site is rezoned or not, BC Housing will replace the existing 224 units of social housing on site … BC Housing will invest all of the net proceeds from the sale of the Site (after the existing social housing is replaced on site) into the development of social housing throughout the province. Half the net proceeds (after the existing social housing is replaced) will be invested in the City of Vancouver.” (For an analysis of the offsite housing, please see the article Myth of the 14 Sites by Nathan Crompton).
After signing this clear agreement, the Province then chose Holborn Properties Ltd. as the project’s developer. These two parties entered into a separate agreement involving sale of the land to Holborn. However, the terms of the agreement, including the dollar value of the land sale, have been kept from the public.