About one year ago Emily and I sent out dozens of applications to co-op housing throughout Vancouver. We were hoping that co-op housing would give us more stability and community then renting, but without having to pay Vancouver’s crazy housing prices. Even though Vancouver has a decent number of co-ops, they all have long waiting lists and rarely have vacancies. So far, we’ve had 2 interviews for co-ops, but none of them have worked out.
A few months ago the city decided that the social housing units at the Olympic Village would be managed by the Co-op Housing Federation. Some of the units are to be rented out at market rent, some at subsidized rates for low-income earners and people with disabilities, and some turned into Vancouver’s newest housing co-op. Emily and I were interested in the co-op, so we sent an email and were asked to come and check out the units on Saturday. The people running the program must be still figuring things out because they are only renting out the market and subsidized units right now – the co-op portion is still being worked out.
The Olympic Village is an impressive development. It feels like a showcase for the best in green design. Energy is recovered from sewage, rain water is used to flush toilets, there are solar panels on all of the green roofs, community gardens everywhere, LED lights, and even personal Energy Aware energy meters in every suite – which I’d love to try integrating into Pulse Energy. The only downside is that none of the units have dishwashers. As an energy saving measure, I can understand that, but I do love having a dishwasher.
After touring the units, Emily and I made a quick list of pros and cons comparing our current apartment to the Olympic Village. The Olympic Village offers a chance to live somewhere true to our high environmental standards, with an an extra bedroom for guests (and who wouldn’t want to visit us in the Olympic Village!), with a bigger kitchen, and extremely easy access to the Seawall. The downsides were the price ($1902 for a 2-bedroom – we barely pay half of that right now) and the neighbourhood. The rest of the Olympic Village is half-empty, million-dollar, luxury condos, surrounded by light-industrial. Compared to the abundance of grocery stores and vegetarian restaurants within a few blocks of our current home, it would be a real change.
In the end we decided to send in an application. I’m not sure if we’ll get in because they give preference to people who work in emergency services, public health, and education, and people who make less money. It is weird that for us spending $1902 on rent would be very expensive, and yet we’re at the upper cusp of the maximum income allowed to rent these units. It’s twisted, but if we made less we’d have a better chance of getting in.