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Olympic village has life again as its doors open to new residents

Vancouver resident Kyle Bordage, 37, was getting ready to go to work one morning this July when life as he knew it changed – completely.

Vancouver resident Kyle Bordage, 37, was getting ready to go to work one morning this July when life as he knew it changed – completely.

He suffered a severe stroke – putting him in the hospital for five months, then in a wheelchair. And that was just the beginning.

He couldn't work, he couldn't get around town, he couldn't even get around in his own house.

"It was totally not wheelchair accessible," Bordage said, now living at a rehabilitation transition house. "Too many stairs, just to get into there, there were too many stairs."

Come January, Bordage will be moving into his new wheelchair-friendly low-income housing apartment at the Olympic village, which opened to renters this week.

"I love the place," Bordage said Wednesday during a visit to his new home. "It's going to make living almost normal."

Roughly half of the 252 affordable housing units will be rented as social housing for lower-income tenants, the other half will be rented at market rates to city workers.

The low-income housing units start at $600 per month, whereas the same units in the village being rented at market value start at $1600 per month.

And none of it is being subsidized, said Fiona Jackson, communications Director of Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C., the management company for the affordable housing portion of the $1 billion development.

The low-income units are balanced out by higher-income units, the company claims.

However, the Olympic village has yet to be freed from trouble.

The city is relying on sales from the village's 454 market units – the majority of which are still sitting empty – to refill the city's bank account after its $740 million loan to the village's developer.

“Breaking even requires a strong housing market for the next few years,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We're hopeful, but there's still risk that the city loan won’t be repaid in full.”

While the city crosses it's fingers over buyer turnout, the village will start to find its pulse as life comes back to the development that has been sitting empty since March.

Tenants are expected to fill all affordable housing units within the coming weeks.

"Our goal was to get people in by Christmas and get things set up over the winter," said Robertson. “We're getting back on track after a slow summer.”

 
 
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