Vancouver senior gets affordable housing at North Arm Co-op
The opening of a new housing co-op is always cause for celebration. One person is celebrating more than most.
Last June, Olga Riabova was the first member to move into North Arm Housing Co-operative. Located in Vancouver at Fraser and 710 East 19th Avenue, the co-op has 58 homes for people aged 55+.
Co-ops provide affordable, co-managed housing
Housing co-ops are nonprofit, self-governing organizations. The Community Land Trust of BC (CLTBC) co-manages the building with North Arm members. Each member has a say in the decisions affecting their home. Meant for folks on fixed incomes, rents at North Arm are affordable. Monthly housing charges are not more than 30% of gross income.
A month after moving in hasn’t worn off the excitement for the 63-year-old. “It’s fantastic!” says Olga. “Just like a firework in my life.”
New, permanent housing
Before North Arm, Olga lived in a one-bedroom apartment in an older Metrotown building. While she loved the location, Olga worried about losing her home. Demolition of affordable, older buildings in Metrotown crept ever closer to her home.
She was diligent about renewing her housing applications. For over 15 years Olga applied for co-op housing. She was starting to think that it would never happen.
“I’m a single person, I live alone. For a long period of time, I wanted to at least know some people around me. Say "hi" to them, have that feeling of community,” Olga said. “Something had been missing in my life.”
Co-ops are built-in communities
“To me, the first and most important thing is for people to know each other. To share a community-feel about home. That was why I wanted to live in a co-op,” Olga said.
Adding to her excitement is the home itself. Olga is thrilled by her new home.
“It exceeded all expectation, it’s like a dream come true,” she said. “Everything I wish to have is here. The floor is extremely comfortable to walk on, non-slippery too. I cannot even find something I wish to be better – even the building colour is cheerful, it’s so wonderful.”
Olga plans to get involved in co-op committees and activities. The 411 Seniors Society runs a seniors’ centre at North Arm. The centre has a commercial kitchen, office and multi-purpose spaces. Olga can’t wait to tap into the new 411 Seniors Centre. In the building, the Centre has lots of community connections - no driving needed!
Being part of a strong community and greeting fellow co-op members daily in the hallways is a gift. More than Olga dared hope for.
“I never knew what a simple smile in the morning can create,” she said. “I can bring such a positive feeling toward the day – it’s amazing.”
Partnerships built these homes
This project is part of a $19 billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province delivered, or has underway, more than 77,000 homes. Including nearly 8,000 homes in Vancouver.
Photo credit: CHFBC - Reprinted with CHFBC permission from The Scoop, “Welcoming North Arm Housing Co-operative's first member”. July 24, 2023.