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A new model for co-op housing

First Avenue Athletes Village Housing Co-op

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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 Athletes 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 Athletes 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.”