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Housing and Displacement


Hosting the Olympics offers developers and landlords an opportunity to make significant profit at the expense of the city’s residents. Displacement, accordingly, has been one of the most pervasive negative impacts of the Olympics. According to a landmark 2007 study by the Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE), over 2 million people had been displaced by the Olympic Games over the prior twenty years. The intersection of the Olympics and housing rights is multi-faceted. First, tenants who live on sites designated for Olympic venues or villages are often evicted, forced to leave the communities they call home. Second, the Olympic Games accelerate the process of gentrification, making neighborhoods increasingly unaffordable to their current residents. Third, landlords, seeking greater profits, often force out their current tenants in order to rent out space to Olympic tourists at exorbitant prices. The initial promises of affordable housing that cities make when selling their bid to the community frequently go unfulfilled.


In the housing "legacy" offeredby Boston 2024 in"Bid 2.0," only 13% of units would be affordable. This is below the 15% requirement the city has for development on publicly owned land, and "affordable" housing is still out of the price range for many low-income residents. Rather than building a Boston for all, the Boston 2024 vision is one of luxury condos financed by what could be the largest tax giveaway in the city's history. Boston 2024 regularly evades questions of gentrification and displacement and has seen no problem in overriding the communities’ existing plans. Boston 2024 representatives, moreover, refuse to rule out that anyone from Boston 2024 will gain control of the land of former venues after the Games.



Select General Readings on Housing & the Olympics


Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights (Geneva: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 2007).


Helen Jefferson Lenskyj, “The Olympic (Affordable) Housing Legacy and Social Responsibility,” Proceedings: International Symposium for Olympic Research, October 2006,


Excerpt: “In the last two decades, the vast majority of bid and host cities have shared a common problem: a housing and homelessness crisis. Examples include Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta, Amsterdam, Sydney, Beijing, Toronto, Athens, Turin, New York and Vancouver. In most cases, bid and/or organizing committees from these cities included housing in their list of Olympic legacy promises. However, the actual post-Olympic situation in recent host cities suggests that an affordable housing legacy is unlikely to materialize, and that, in fact, conditions for homeless and inadequately housed people are exacerbated by the hosting of the Olympics.”


Libby Porter, “Planning Displacement: The Real Legacy of Major Sporting Events,” Planning Theory & Practice 10, no. 3 (September 2009): 395-418,


Introduction: "Displacement is a defining feature of the mega-event: those major sporting and cultural events that roam every few years to a new venue, and a new city. This is the legacy of such events that goes almost unreported publicly. It is considered either unimportant, or the unfortunate but necessary by-product of the urban redevelopment needed to make a successful event. This Interface takes a look at the personal cost and experience of being displaced by a major sporting event. It explores the deeply marginalising effects of being on the “receiving end” of the policy and planning processes designed to achieve displacement. In doing so, the contributions in this Interface confront those processes head on and challenge not only the assumptions, but also the procedures by which displacement is actually given effect."


Looking Ahead to Boston 2024


Katie Johnson, “Low-Income Residents Worry about Olympics’ Repercussions,” Boston Globe, April 22, 2015,


  • “But the committee’s promise that the Games will create thousands of affordable housing units may not make much of a difference for people barely scraping by. Roughly 3,000 of the modular units of athlete housing would be made available for city residents, and the proposed stadium site could be partially repurposed for housing.”


  • “For new housing developments, the city requires 15 percent of the units to be affordable. These lower-cost rental units would be available to households that make up to 70 percent of the median income for the city, or up to $68,950 a year for a family of four, which is nearly double what two full-time minimum-wage earners make.”


  • “Even if new units are added, the Olympic-fueled gentrification could accelerate housing prices already on the rise. In Dorchester, the market is hotter than ever, real estate agents say, with several new developments on the horizon.”


  • “In fact, landlords could conceivably kick out their tenants in May, hike the rent, and find plenty of Olympic visitors willing to pay the price, said Joseph Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for residents of all income levels.”


Rio 2016


“Critics Blast Rio’s World Cup, Olympic Evictions,” Associated Press, February 28, 2014,


  • “Nascimento, her husband and children were among the more than 230 families forced out of their homes in Vila Recreio II, a Rio de Janeiro slum that was razed three years ago to make way for the Transoeste expressway connecting the Barra da Tijuca neighborhood, the main hub for the 2016 Olympics, with the western outskirts of Rio.”


  • “Nascimento said city officials presented her and her husband, bricklayer Jucelio de Souza, with a simple choice: Accept a lump-sum compensation for their house, be given an apartment in a distant housing project or walk away with nothing. With Rio's real estate market among the hottest in the Americas and even homes in many slums fetching upward of $50,000, the city's compensation offer of just over $2,300 was grossly inadequate, Nascimento said.”


  • “Amnesty International Brazil paints a different picture [than Olympic organizers], saying 19,200 families in and round Rio have been pushed out of their homes since 2009. An advocacy group for affected slum residents called the Popular Committee for the World Cup and Olympics estimates that 100,000 people have or will be moved.”


Stephen Eisenhammer, “Amid Rubble, Rio Residents Fight Olympics Evictions,” Reuters, February 5, 2015,


  • “The 450 families that have already been moved from the favela are just a small part of the more than 20,000 families that have been re-located since 2009 in the state of Rio de Janeiro alone, many of them to make way for Olympic projects.”


  • “Rio's City Hall says the clearing of the community is needed for roads to access the Olympic Park, but residents believe the area will be used to build luxury apartments or hotels once the Games are over….Plans already exist to transform much of the Olympic Park into high-rise apartments, and the Olympic Village, which is under construction nearby and will house visiting athletes, will also later be sold as residences….Human rights group Amnesty International says the government has yet to produce convincing evidence that the community, which has property rights over the land, really needs to be moved.”


Stephen Wade, “2016 Athletes’ Village Set to Become Luxury Housing,” Associated Press, Mach 20, 2015,


  • “Developers brag that the athletes' village for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics will rival a five-star resort…The village will be turned into a private condominium complex after the games with some of the 3,600 luxury apartments selling for up to 2.3 million Brazilian reals ($700,000)….It also reinforces complaints that South America's first games are being run by powerful construction and real estate interests, oblivious to the city's sprawling favelas (slums) and stark inequality.”


  • “The swank village contrasts with the conditions of thousands of poor who once lived just a short walk from the village in Rio's Vila Autodromo, a favela that has been 90 percent demolished to make way for the Olympic Park. A few families hang on and resist eviction, lacking reliable basic services like water and electricity. It's a scene repeated often during the Olympics and last year's World Cup.”


  • “Christopher Gaffney, who spent 5 1/2 years in Rio researching the 2014 World Cup and Olympics, called the village ‘a transfer of wealth program from the public (treasury) to private construction firms.’…‘Beyond the floodlights, the Olympics are always about real-estate speculation in the local context and Rio, with its already major problems of housing stock and social polarity, is definitely no exception.’”


Sochi 2014


Nate Berg, “Olympic Evictions Come to Russia,” City Lab, September 15, 2011,


  • “About 1,000 families are being forcibly removed from their homes and neighborhoods through the government’s use of eminent domain, according to recent reports…In some cases, locals have been given just hours notice before their homes are demolished to make way for sports venues and road projects.”


  • “The AFP [Agence France Presse] found one woman who is being evicted from her home to make way for a new road project that will connect the city to its Olympic venues. The government paid her the equivalent of about $55,000, which is not enough to buy even a small apartment in the suddenly-expensive future Olympic host city.”


Katya Golubkova and Melissa Akin, “Bulldozers Clear the Way in Russia’s Olympic Showcase,” Reuters, November 5, 2012,


  • “The workers arrived at Sergei Khlystov's gate on a Friday evening to bulldoze his home and clear a path for sewage pipes to the Olympic village being built in the Russian city of Sochi…Khlystov and his 33-year-old son-in-law, Maxim Samokhval, at first tried to block the bulldozers but then stood aside and watched as the two-storey house was destroyed….Khlystov, 52, says he and his family were cheated out of fair compensation by a bureaucratic loophole. They had not managed to prove they owned the land on which their house was built, a condition for receiving a new house in exchange…On bailiffs' orders, half the house had been bulldozed a few days before the workers - accompanied by police - returned to finish the job on September 21, even though the family had continued to live in it with Samokhval's children, aged three and eight.”


Mark Byrnes, “The Sochi Olympics Are Already Making Life Way Worse for Locals,” City Lab, November 14, 2013,


  • “Stadiums, hotels, railways, bridges, and even illegal apartments have sprouted up around the coastal city of 343,000. But while athletes and spectators will get to enjoy these new facilities in less than a hundred days, many locals are facing difficulties that are a direct result of the new construction…The problems are serious and wide-ranging, including disrupted water supplies, damaged homes (sometimes with no government compensation), and forced evictions. Residents in Sochi's Akhshtyr district say that the construction of railway and highway tunnels has even cut them off from public transit.”


Vsevolod Kritskiy, “Forced Evictions of Displaced People Lies in the Dark Shadows of Sochi Olympics,” Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, January 27, 2014,


  • “As Russia prepares for next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, people living in displacement for 20 years are being bulldozed away in neighbouring Ingushetia. These types of forced evictions – illegal under international law – are quietly putting hundreds of displaced people in the North Caucasus out in the cold.”


  • “Ethnic Chechen IDPs are particularly at risk of forced evictions in Ingushetia because there are three times as many IDPs from Chechnya in Ingushetia as there are from North Ossetia, and they can face particular discrimination….For example, 82 Chechen IDPs were forcefully evicted from the Promzhilbaza collective centre, located in Karabulak, Ingushetia, just east of Sochi, in December last year…The only assistance local authorities offered was a 5000 rouble (around $150) monthly stipend per family for one year, which is nowhere near enough to pay for housing outside of the substandard centre.”


Sergei Loiko, “Sochi Olympic Winter Games at Root of Residents’ Housing Woes,” LA Times, February 7, 2014,


  • “She imagined that wonderful things were coming. She didn't think that riot police would throw 13 family members out of their three-story home to make way for a new highway two miles away. The compensation they received wasn't enough to reestablish themselves, she said.”


  • “Yuri Maryan, head of Sochi's nongovernmental anti-corruption coalition, said dozens of people suffered similar fates in the years leading to the Olympics, which open Friday. Legislation known as Law 301 allowed the seizure and demolition of privately owned plots of land and buildings in preparation for the Games. It never took into account the consequences for people living in Sochi, he said.”


London 2012


 “Displaced by London’s Olympics,” The Guardian, June 2, 2008,


  • “The Clays Lane housing estate in east London used to be home to up to 450 tenants – until it was compulsorily purchased in the summer of 2007 to make way for the site of the 2012 Olympics. Julian Cheyne, a tenant on the estate since 1991, was vociferously opposed to his eviction. He now lives in temporary accommodation and says that he and his ex-neighbours are struggling to make ends meet.”


  • “In terms of housing, people were given whatever was available. Everybody is considerably worse off now. We got £8,500 each in compensation, but a lot of people had to spend £4,000-£5,000 on doing up their flats. At Clays Lane we had community heating so the bills were very low. The LDA allowed us a grant of £1,555, which is meant to be spread over three years. If our costs go up by £30, that's gone in a year. Most people's costs have gone up by £50 or £60 – some even more than that.”


Julia Kollewe, “Olympic Village snapped up by Qatari ruling family for £557m,” The Guardian, August 12, 2011,


  • “London's Olympic Village has been sold to the Qatari ruling family's property company in a deal that leaves UK taxpayers £275m out of pocket.”


Emily Allen, “Scandal of the Green Landlords Kicking out Their Tenants to Charge Tourists a Fortune During the Olympics,” Daily Mail, February 3, 2012,


  • “Homes in the east London boroughs where many events are to be held are fetching between five and 15 times their typical rates as properties are rebranded as short-term Olympic lets….Some landlords are also apparently enforcing expensive 'penalty' clauses for tenants who want to remain during the gathering of the world's top athletes."


  • “Experts say those who are evicted or displaced by huge rent increases - as well as other tenants looking to move in July and August - will struggle to find affordable alternatives due to the temporary influx of tourists paying higher rates.”


Patrick Collinson, “The East End Tenants Facing Eviction during the Olympics,” The Guardian, May 18, 2012,


  • “But in December the letting agent dropped a bombshell. The rent would jump to £1,500 a month – much more than they were expecting. But worse was to come. They were told they would have to pay nearly £2,000 to remain in their flat during this summer's Olympics – or face eviction.”


  • “According to homeless charity Shelter...across east London landlords are attempting to evict tenants to cash in on lucrative (although in reality elusive) Olympics rental demand… ‘Increasingly we are seeing signs that the Olympics are exacerbating these problems, with some landlords looking to evict tenants and re-let their homes to Olympic visitors, without any guarantee that they will be filled.’”


  • “Cases seen by Shelter include an NHS employee in Hackney. Her fixed-term rental contract is coming to an end at the end of May and her landlord wants her to move out for a month so he can rent the flat out to Olympic visitors for £1,400 per week. ‘The landlord is not providing any alternative accommodation. If she doesn't leave for that time, apparently he would look to increase her rent to make up for the income he thinks he could get during the Olympics,’ said Shelter.”


Dave Hill, “London 2012 Legacy: The Battle Begins on a Newham Estate,” The Guardian, June 13, 2012,


  • “While pointing out that the LLDC remains committed to 35% of the up to 8,000 homes it plans to see built on the park being affordable – in addition to 3,000 that the Athletes' Village will be converted into – [Margaret Ford] felt it was a matter for regret for London as a whole that the government's new funding approach means ‘affordable’ rent can now be up to 80% of local market rates, which even in poorer parts of London are high compared with the rest of the country.”


  • “‘I think this part of Hackney will start feeling a bit more like central London and less like east London,’ [Martin Sadler, a resident of Hackney] says. ‘I've lived here for over 20 years, and it's always been a traditional East End sort of place – a real mixture of people, plenty of cheap accommodation. It's already becoming more affluent, partly because the schools have improved. That brings good things with it, but there are worries too. I think London could be getting more like Paris – that doughnut effect, with the poorer people having to move out of the centre.’”


Charlie Cooper, “Price Rise for ‘Affordable’ Housing Puts Olympic Legacy under Threat,” The Independent, July 2, 2012,


  • “More than 11,000 new properties will be built on the site of the Olympic Park in the next 20 years but despite assurances that more than a third would be allocated to "affordable housing" there are fears that recent changes to social housing policy will mean that the majority of local people will be frozen out by the high cost…Despite assurances that thousands of homes would be allocated to social housing, changes to housing policy introduced by the Coalition Government last year mean that subsidised properties can be rented at up to 80 per cent of market rates.”


  • “The housing charity Shelter calculates that the median monthly rent for a two-bedroom home in Newham is £953. This means that a two-bedroom property in the new development could be classified as ‘affordable’ if it was advertised to let at £762 a month – beyond the reach of many locals.”’


  • “‘The key thing is that word ‘affordable’,’ said Keith Fernett, a housing expert and director of Anchor House, a homeless skills centre in Newham. ‘Traditionally 'affordable' meant homes for working-class, low-income people. It has been redefined and now it means affordable for graduates and young professionals. Affordable now means earning £30,000 or more, which is beyond most of the people in the borough. There are 32,000 people on the social housing waiting list here and we don't expect the Olympic Park to make a dent in that.’”


Carsten Volkery, “Stratford’s Gentrification: Olympics A Mixed Blessing for London’s East End,” Der Spiegel, July 24, 2012,


  • “The Olympic Games were supposed to revive the neglected area. But most people see no upturn. Even though the city landscape has been prettied up with new sidewalks and trees, the socio-economic indicators remain bleak. The income gap between Newham and the rest of London widened between 2006 and 2011, according to a London School of Economics study….Even since the Olympic bid, unemployment here has risen here more sharply than in the rest of the city. The shopping center did create 10,000 new jobs, but 200 firms had to move to make way for it, so thousands of jobs disappeared.”


  • “Thousands of new apartments were built for the Olympic village and next year there will be 2,800 flats for sale. But with entry level prices of 250,000 pounds ($388,000) for a three-room apartment on High Street, they are unaffordable for the vast majority of people in Newham…Long established residents, such as fruit seller Metcalfe, feel displaced by the newcomers. He doesn't know how much longer he can hold out: many of his colleagues in the old Stratford Center have already given up.”


Penny Bernstock and Gavin Poynter, “London 2012: Affordable Housing Sidelined in Olympic Regeneration,” The Guardian, July 27, 2012,


  • “However, since 2009 there has been a dramatic departure from previous commitments to mixed communities and on-site affordable housing. Three schemes have been approved with signed S106 agreements. These agreements do not include any on-site affordable housing for social rent and just 7.5% on-site shared ownership. On two schemes contributions are made to off-site affordable housing (16%) and on the third scheme affordable housing is subject to profitability. Moreover, financial contributions to offset the impact of developments have fallen substantially and are now way below the actual cost to local authorities when new housing is built.”


  • “Land comes at a premium in London and most new affordable housing is likely to be developed in east London as there are more vacant sites available. However, every site or scheme that includes very low or no on-site affordable housing for rent exacerbates the housing crisis for families on low incomes. These developments will shape subsequent activity on surrounding sites and indicates that poor families will eventually be pushed out of this area.”


  • “This was reflected in the outline planning application for Ikea's mixed use development to the south of Stratford High Street....The rapidly decreasing requirements for affordable housing are once again evident here. The scheme proposes 10% on-site affordable housing with a 50:50 split between affordable rent and intermediate housing, with a commitment to increase this to 15% if market conditions prevail.”



Reni Eddo-Lodge, “London’s Housing Boom,” New York Times, October 27, 2014,


  • “In Stratford, the East London site of the 2012 Olympics, a new postcode has appeared. E20 used to be the made-up postcode of the fictional London borough Walford, from the BBC’s hugely popular soap opera “EastEnders.” Now, it’s the postcode of the East Village, which was briefly home to the athletes competing in the Games….The village’s cluster of affordable homes was available to rent at 80 percent of market rates, which meant that they cost between £1,244 and £1,688 a month (about $2,000 to $2,700). The average annual salary is £26,500 ($42,600). The numbers just don’t add up.”


  • “Back in Stratford, adjacent to the Olympic site, lies the Carpenters Estate. In 2012, Newham Council evicted some of the project’s social housing residents, insisting that the site was marked for demolition. Two years later, the homes had been left empty and forgotten. Around the same time, in another part of Stratford, a group of young mothers received eviction notices. They had two months to leave the homeless hostel they were staying in, and the council had plans to move them miles away. The Focus E15 mothers fought back, and were eventually rehoused in private tenancies in the borough. Last month, they occupied the abandoned Carpenters Estate to make a political point.”


Paul Watt, “‘It’s Not for Us’: Regeneration, the 2012 Olympics and the Gentrification of East London,” City 17, no. 1 (February 2013): 99-118,


Abstract: This paper examines the much-hyped 2012 Olympic Games ‘legacy’ in relation to the displacement experiences of lower-income East Londoners. The paper begins by outlining the overall context of housing-related regeneration including the reduced role for social housing, especially council (public) housing in London. It then sets out a framework for understanding how regeneration, state-led gentrification and displacement are intertwined, as well as how such processes have been contested. The paper examines these issues in greater depth with reference to case studies of the inhabitants of two working-class spaces in the London Borough of Newham, an Olympics host borough. The first study is based on the Carpenters Estate, a council housing estate in Stratford that is facing potential demolition, and the second focuses on young people living in a temporary supported housing unit. These studies illustrate how the 2012 Olympics, alongside other regeneration schemes, is changing the nature of space and place from the perspective of existing East London residents and how gentrification is implicated in such transformations. Neither the Carpenters Estate residents nor the young people think that the Olympics and other regeneration schemes in Newham are primarily occurring, if at all, for their benefit—indeed, displacement processes may well mean that they are no longer able to live in their current neighbourhood. The Olympics legacy is for others, not for them.


Marina Milosev, “Urban Regeneration for the London Olympics 2012 and Its Social Impact on the Local Residents,” M.A. Thesis, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, 2014,


Abstract: Urban regeneration is intervention, in the form of a policy, with the objective to overcome accumulated urban problems. One of the objectives of this action is to design socially sustainable communities by enhance the life of local low-income residents. This research focuses on the recent urban regeneration that took place due to the London Olympics 2012. The main aim of this study is to investigate its social impact on the local low-income residents of Newham borough. Mixed methodological approach was used as research methodology in order to support the study. Data were collected using interviews, documentation analysis, fieldwork observations, and questionnaires. The findings of this study argue that local low-income residents of Newham won’t benefit from the Olympic 2012 social legacy. On the contrary, this might cause social disadvantages, such as displacement of low-income inhabitants, rather than an improvement to their lives.


Penny Bernstock, A Critical Review of London 2012's Legacy (Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2014).


Vancouver 2010


“Olympics Making Vancouver Housing Crisis Worse: Critic,” CBC News, February 12, 2007,


  • “[Kim] Kerr, of the Downtown Eastside Residents Association, said the Olympics is squeezing low-cost housing in his neighbourhood, Canada's poorest postal code….Seventeen run-down, single-room-occupancy hotel buildings (SROs) in the district have been sold in the past year, he pointed out, and several others are about to be auctioned off in preparation for the Games…People are being thrown out of their accommodations because developers can make more money turning the SROs into expensive condos on what is prime city real estate, Kerr said. As the pace of redevelopment picks up, he added, homelessness is becoming increasingly severe.”


David Eby, “The Olympics, Housing and Homelessness in Vancouver,” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, February 7, 2008,


  • “Rumoured provincial funding to build new social housing on city-owned lots before the Games has yet to be realized. Any new units that might result from a funding announcement in the next year would be extremely unlikely to open before 2010. Despite criticisms that may be made of the negligent provincial government on the housing file, the federal government is not even talking about funding housing for 2010, or at all.”


  • “Meanwhile, Vancouver is losing affordable housing at an alarming rate, feeding a rapidly growing homeless population. In recent months, five low-cost rental buildings in and around the Downtown Eastside closed or issued eviction notices, representing at least 180 units. According to the City of Vancouver’s Judy Graves, there are at least 2,300 street homeless in Vancouver, up 78 per cent from the last homelessness count in 2005, which itself was up 171 per cent from 2002’s count (both conducted by SPARC-BC). These 2,300 people are competing for 746 emergency shelter spaces in Vancouver.”


Raina Delisle, “Counting the Vancouver 2010 Olympics’ Broken Promises,” this Magazine, March 10, 2010,


  • “According to the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, the number of homeless people in Vancouver increased by 135 percent from 670 in 2002 to 1,576 in 2008. The tally is believed to greatly underestimate the reality, given the difficultly in tracking down and interviewing the homeless, and housing advocates estimated there were between 4,000 and 6,000 homeless during the Olympics.”


  • “There was a promise that no one would be involuntarily displaced, evicted or face unreasonable increases in rent due to the Games. But according to the IOCC [Impact on Community Coalition], approximately 1,300 low-income single room occupancies (SROs)—many contained in old hotels on East Hastings and considered the last option before homelessness—have been lost since the bid was won and the city is not following its own policy to replace rooms at a one-to-one rate. The city defends its record, making another promise that from 2003 to the end of 2012 it will have nearly 2,000 additional non-market units built, compared to a loss of over 1,400 units. However, these numbers don’t take into consideration rent increases that have made SROs unaffordable for low-income residents, nor does it account for rooms held vacant by landlords.”


  • “Before the Games, condos were outpacing social housing in the Downtown Eastside at a rate of three to one, and SRO residents were being booted out of their homes as landlords renovated so they could raise rents and make room for Olympic visitors. The IOCC went so far as to file a human rights complaint with the United Nations in July 2009 (PDF), saying hundreds of renters could be evicted prior to the Olympics because of loopholes in tenancy legislations, which allows for these ‘renovictions.’”


“Vancouver Cuts Olympic Village Social Housing,” CBC News, April 23, 2010,


  • “Vancouver city council has approved a plan to halve the amount of social housing in the Olympic Village development…Councillors spent hours Thursday debating how to keep an Olympic promise to provide 252 social housing units at the athletes' village, but in the end they approved a $32-million plan to rent out half of the city's units at market rates…About 850 other units at the $1-billion development on the shores of False Creek are being sold off as condominiums at market rates.”


Yolanda Cole, “Low-income Tenants in Vancouver’s Olympic Village Fear Eviction over Utility Bills,” The Georgia Straight, December 8, 2011,


  • “At a press conference in front of 80 Walter Hardwick Avenue today (December 8), Pivot Legal Society lawyer Scott Bernstein outlined the concerns of some of the residents in what has been touted as a ‘net zero’ energy-efficient building….Bernstein said when the tenants moved in to the social housing units at the Olympic Village, they were assured that their utility bills would be ‘next to nothing’….According to Bernstein, the residents received a $28 bill from North Vancouver-based company Enerpro Systems Corp for an account activation fee. In addition, they were also billed by the company for heat, and for both hot and cold water, with some residents receiving bills of over $120. The energy costs were on top of a separate bill from B.C. Hydro for electricity consumption.


  • “‘For many of these residents, those bills represent upwards of 10 percent of their monthly income of what they’re actually living on,’ said Bernstein, noting that the tenants in the social housing units consist of seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income residents.”


Kent Spencer, “Bulk of Olympic Village Social-Housing Units Sit Empty,” The Province, March 23, 2011,


  • “Almost 200 of the 252 Olympic Village social-housing suites owned by the City of Vancouver remain vacant, and critics say the situation is inexcusable given that the Olympics ended more than a year ago.”


  • “The Olympic Village, which has a troubled history, has been slow to fill up with residents and was once dubbed a ‘ghost town,’ although sales of private condos have recently picked up substantially….Last week, 62 owners of condos already bought filed suit demanding their money be returned, alleging that construction was shoddy.”


  • “Only about 60 of the units have been occupied. Another 20 have been ‘spoken for’ but are presently unoccupied. About 1,500 people have expressed interest in the units.”


Claire Vulliamy, “Last Low-income Tenants at Olympic Village Are Being ‘Forced Out,’” The Mainlander, March 21, 2013,


  • “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....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…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.’”


Gary Mason, “Olympic Village Proves to be a Costly Lesson for Vancouver,” The Globe and Mail, April 29, 2014,


  • “Mayor Gregor Robertson announced Monday that the city had paid down the $690-million debt it inherited when it had to take over the troubled project from its bankrupt developers. Beyond that, the city was able to recoup an additional $70-million. What the mayor’s press release didn’t mention was the $170-million that the original builder, Millennium Development Group, agreed to pay for the site of the condominium complex – but never did…. Bottom line: Taxpayers are out north of $100-million.


  • “It’s hard to imagine a mayor or council ever assuming the kind of financial risk that the Non-Partisan Association government did when it entered into an agreement with the Vancouver Organizing Committee in 2002 to provide athlete housing for the 2010 Winter Games…It was that arrangement that ultimately left the city on the hook when the developer ran into financial difficulties in 2008 as financial markets teetered. Suddenly, the city owned the project, which it had to complete in time to house Sidney Crosby and his fellow Olympic friends.”


Beijing 2008


Deanna Fowler, One World, Whose Dream? Housing Rights and Violations and the Beijing Olympics (Geneva: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 2008),


  • “COHRE, however, has documented an increase in displacements due to the Olympic Games, and a crackdown on housing rights defenders. That is not to say that many displacements were not already occurring. The head of a leading law firm in Beijing spoke to COHRE researchers in May 2008 about the recent increase in displacements, saying that since China began implementing economic reforms, there has been a crisis of displacements. However, he notes that preparations for the Olympic Games have sped up those displacements” (5)


  • “Arguing that housing rights violations would have occurred regardless of the Olympic Games does not reduce the responsibility of the IOC. The IOC was aware of existing housing rights violations and the lack of an independent judiciary that could provide legal remedies when violations occurred. Yet, with this knowledge, the IOC awarded the Games to Beijing. Furthermore, the IOC has continued to justify this decision by arguing that the human rights situation is better because of the Olympics, despite reports to the contrary by international human rights organisations, Chinese non-governmental organisations, and world leaders” (5).


  • “COHRE found that the Beijing Municipality and the Beijing Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) have been responsible for destroying affordable rental housing stock, and authorities have used tactics of harassment, repression, imprisonment, and even violence against residents and activists…Moreover, demolitions and evictions have often been undertaken without due process, without the provision of adequate compensation sufficient to attain alternative accommodation, and without access to legal recourse. In some cases, tenants were given little or no notice of their eviction and did not receive the promised compensation. Compensation rates have rarely enabled affected people to relocate while retaining the same standard of living” (6-7).


  • “According to COHRE research...1.5 million people have been displaced to create space for the principal Olympics venues, city ‘beautification’ for Olympics tourism, other urban facilities related to the Olympic Games, and improvements to the city’s general infrastructure…Furthermore, the number of people displaced, which is based primarily on official figures of housing removals, appears not to include the evictions of many migrants living ‘temporarily’ in some 171 neighbourhoods within the fourth ring road (the city’s urbanised core) and whose homes were also demolished as a result of urban development linked to the Olympic Games” (7).


  • “Many of the evictions and displacements that occurred during the 2000-2008 period would undoubtedly have happened even if Beijing had lost the bid. Nevertheless, even in those cases where District and Municipal officials had already planned housing removals, authorities used the Olympic Games to justify these removals to those affected and to the general public. There is clear evidence of the authorities’ use of the Olympic Games as an inducement to both encourage residents to relocate voluntarily from areas that are not Olympics venues in order to ‘beautify’ the city, and also to threaten residents to leave quickly, or otherwise be given lower compensation rates” (8)


  • “[I]t is clear that many residents who left their homes ‘voluntarily’ were, in fact, coerced into accepting compensation at rates that were not at the fair market value for homes in their neighbourhoods and were not sufficient to guarantee their ‘residential conditions’ by attaining alternative housing at or above the quality of that from which they were being forced, as is required by Chinese law” (8).


Shin, Hyun Bang, “Life in the Shadow of Mega-Events: Beijing Summer Olympiad and its Impact on Housing,” Journal of Asian Public Policy 2, no. 2 (2009): 122-141,


Abstract: Beijing's selection as the host city of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games was reportedly received with joy among Beijing residents. As part of the city's preparation of this mega-event, massive reinvestment in Beijing's urban space was carried out in order to transform the city to have a global look. This accompanied large-scale demolition and redevelopment of dilapidated inner-city neighbourhoods and migrants' enclaves. In this regard, this paper seeks to discuss the drivers of the Beijing Summer Olympiad, and critically examine its social legacy. The paper argues that the benefits and costs of hosting the Beijing Olympic Games were disproportionately shared among local residents due to their differences in socio-economic status and place of residence, and that the hardest hit were poorer residents in dilapidated inner-city neighbourhoods and migrants' enclaves. The Olympic Games preparation facilitated the rebuilding of Beijing, contributing to significant loss of affordable housing stocks for urban poor families and migrants. It is therefore necessary to address the social impacts of the Beijing Olympic Games within a framework of wider urban policy contexts.


Hyun Bang Shin and Bingqin Li, “Whose Games? The Costs of Being ‘Olympic Citizens’ in Beijing,” Environment and Urbanization 25, no. 2 (October 2013): 559-576,


Abstract: Mega-events such as the Olympic Games tend to be accompanied by copious media coverage of the negative social impacts of these events, and people in the affected areas are often thought to share similar experiences. The research in this paper, which focused on the Beijing Summer Olympic Games of 2008, unpacks the heterogeneous groups in a particular sector of the housing market to gain a better understanding of how the Games affected different resident groups. The paper critically examines the experience of migrant tenants and Beijing citizens (landlords in particular) in “villages-in-the-city” (known as cheongzhongcun), drawing on their first-hand accounts of the citywide preparations for the Games and the pervasive demolition threats to their neighbourhoods. The paper argues that the Beijing Summer Olympiad produced an uneven, often exclusionary, Games experience for a certain segment of the urban population.



Turin 2006


“Turin’s ExMoi Occupation: The Story So Far,” Struggles in Italy, January 21, 2015,


  • “Back in 2006, the Turin municipality and the national government spent over 140 million euros in building a new neighbourhood to host athletes for the Winter Olympic Games. This was in an area that once held the city’s biggest wholesale market (MOI – Mercato Ortofrutticolo all’Ingrosso). Designed by international architects and built according to the latest ecological and sustainable design criteria, the Olympic Village was finished in 20 months. It was used for around 16 days and left mostly empty after the Games ended.”


  • “Little by little, the regional government has sold off some of the buildings; some have been converted into student housing and a youth hostel. At the same time, serious structural problems have emerged, revealing the poor quality of the buildings: as a consequence, no-one wants to invest in them. The potential for regenerating the deprived Lingotto area has been squandered. Four buildings were sold off to a private holding (35% owned by the city, the rest by Pirelli and the Intesa San Paolo bank) and left empty for seven years.”


“Turin to Evict Refugees from ex-Olympic Village,” The Local (It), January 15, 2015,


  • “The move to evict refugees and immigrant families follows recent tension and some violence in the former Olympic village, in southern Turin, La Repubblica reported on Wednesday…Prosecutor Paolo Borgna subsequently requested the accommodation be cleared, with the decision filed by Judge Luisa Ferracane, the newspaper said…The measure gives police the right to evict the occupants, although the go-ahead must first be given by Turin’s committee for public order and security…While the date for evictions has not yet been set, the decision was welcomed by the far-right Brothers of Italy (Fratelli d’Italia) party.”


Athens 2004


Theodoros Alexandridis, The Housing Impact on the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens (Geneva: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 2007),


  • “Forced evictions have occurred in relations to the preparation of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, with almost all cases concerning Roma communities. It is estimated that more than 2,700 individuals of Romani ethnic origin were adversely affected by the Olympic Games, undergoing either evictions or experiencing the abandonment of their relocation projects for reasons ostensibly related to the Olympic Games” (16).


  • “The relationship between the preparation of the Olympic Games and forced evictions of Roma communities in Greece is twofold. In the first scenario, municipal authorities have been using and invoking the preparation of the Olympic Games as a pretext to carry out forced evictions of Roma communities. In the second scenario, the actual construction of infrastructure for the Olympic Games has led to the forced eviction of the Roma community of Marousi, located in the Greater Athens area and adjacent to the main Olympic complex” (18).


  • “The Roma settlement of Aspropyrgos, situated near Athens, has been one settlement where municipal authorities have been using the preparation of the Olympic Games as a pretext to forcible evict Roma communities. Overall, from 1999 on, Roma communities of Aspropyrgos have been threatened with forced eviction either by police officers or by civilians threatening to call the police. While it was not clear for some time whether Olympic facilities would be built in Aspropyrgos, the Mayor of the town used this perspective as an excuse to forcibly evict or refuse the relocation of the Roma communities. Ultimately, no Olympic facilities were constructed in the area” (19).


  • “In 2002, the Roma community of Marousi has been asked by the municipal authorities to vacate their settlement because the 2004 Olympic Games Committee decided to extend the Olympic installation into that area to construct a parking lot for the Olympic Stadium. Roma families who have been living for more than 30 years in three small settlements next to or opposite the Olympic Stadium in the municipality of Maroussi in Athens were concerned….After a few months time following the signature of the agreement the municipality started defaulting on the payments, causing severe financial hardship on the Roma. As a result, certain Roma families fell in arrears and were evicted by their landlords….Other families also faced severe economic hardship, as they did heavily relied on the subsidies to cover the rental costs. Additionally, the Roma were threatened with a total cut off of the payment of subsidies unless they applied for loans, granted under favourable terms, to Greek Roma” (24).


  • “On August 17, 2004, a ‘cleaning operation’ took place against Albanian Roma living in Riganokampos, on a plot of land belonging to the University of Patras. Two Greek Roma families who had set up their sheds next to those of the Albanian Roma were offered money in order to transfer their sheds on the neighbouring plot of land where the Greek Roma live. No such arrangements were made for the 35 families of Albanian Roma, the majority of who were away from their homes engaged into seasonal agricultural work in other parts of Greece. Although the municipality of Patras argued in public that the Roma abandoned the sheds and that its operation was merely a 'cleaning one', the language use in one document sent to the Western Greece Region attests to the racial dimension of the operation” (26).


Salt Lake City 2002


Lawrence Donegan, “Poor Pay the Price of Olympic Glory,” The Guardian, February 3, 2002,


  • “With its three-tone corrugated-iron exterior, 'No drug use please' handwritten signs, and the burst blue couch by the front door, the Utah Hostel promises little from the outside. Yet a quick tour inside reveals it is less comfortable than it looks…Guests will stay in a windowless room without running water, central heating or television. They will (try to) drift off to sleep to the sound of the city's busiest freeway on one side and the main freight railway line on the other. And all for the bargain price of $2,800 (£1,978)…It's a bad deal by any standards but nothing compared with the one offered to the hostel's permanent residents, who normally pay $110 a week for their accommodation: meet the inflated rent or get out on the street, or renovate the hostel's derelict attic (for no pay) and crash there. Faced with the prospect of 14 nights in sub-zero temperatures, it's hardly surprising most regulars have stayed on.”


  • “The Olympic spirit has also been in action on the other side of town, where residents at Zion's Motel have been told to meet the 300 per cent price increase - up from $185 a week to $735 - or get out by tonight. 'I don't run a charity, and every other hotel in the city is doing the same with their prices,' says motel owner John Purdue.”


Sydney 2000


Hazel Blunden, The Impacts of the Sydney Olympic Games on Housing Rights (Geneva: Centre on Housing and Eviction Rights, 2007),


  • “House prices more than doubled between 1996 and 2003. Rents increased significantly also. Similar to other Australian cities, Sydney’s pattern of gentrification involved the renovation and rejuvenation of inner city housing stock. Brownfield sites were being used for high density ‘infill’ developments such as in ex-industrial areas at Pyrmont and Ultimo. The main Olympic stadium itself was to be one of these brownfield developments as was the Olympic Village. The Olympic Games was in a way part of the general gentrification process and part of the way the Government was casting Sydney as a ‘global’ or ‘world-class’ city’:


  • “Many renting in Sydney were (and are) in housing stress, that is, paying more than 30 per cent of their income on rent. In the areas close by to the Olympic Stadium, rents did go up significantly” (18).


  • “Real estate speculation did occur, especially around Concord and Strathfield (both areas close to the Olympics stadium). Real estate advertisements featured words like ‘gold’, or ‘champion’ to give the potential investor the sense that buying would link them to the Olympic Games” (19).


  • “There was no doubt that rent were going up faster than the rate of inflation. For example, the Rent and Sales Report for the December quarter of 1998 revealed that rents in most areas across Sydney had been steadily increasing….Of particular note was a 29 per cent increase in median rents for 2 bedroom units in Concord, a suburb adjacent to the Olympic Games stadium site (21).


  • “ The consultants’ June 1999 Monitoring Report concluded that rents in the middle ring of suburbs, especially those near the Olympic sites, were increasing rapidly. The cause of the increase was attributed to the process of gentrification, although ‘for some LGAs [municipalities], proximity to the Olympic site at Homebush Bay may be accelerating the gentrification process’” (21).


  • “In general, there appeared to be a significant rise in the frequency of inquiries about terminations from tenants. This was particularly noticeable in the municipality of Waverley, which was host to the volleyball stadium and on the path of the marathon. Many tenants reported the landlord was evicting them to carry out major renovations….There were some reports of landlords evicting tenants where they wished to rent their house out to Olympic Games visitors for a lucrative return” (22)


  • “Some boarding house owners issued their boarders with notices to vacate and renovated in time for the Olympic Games in the hopes of accommodating the budget end of the visitor market..…There is evidence that some boarders were evicted, and some boarding houses closed or changed use, just prior to the Olympic Games” (23)


  • “The Olympic Village is now a private housing estate called Newington. No social housing or affordable housing was included. Part of the public-private deal was the developer (Mirvac Lend Lease Village Consortium) was entitled to sell the housing commercially after the Games. Newington properties retail at $369,000 for a two bedroom to $775,000 for a three or four bedroom dwelling” (30).


Atlanta 1996


Seth Gustafson, “Displacement and the Racial State in Olympic Atlanta 1990-1996,” Southeastern Geographer 53, no.2 (Summer 2013): 198-2013,


Anita Beaty, Atlanta’s Olympic Legacy (Geneva: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 2007).


  • “The City and AHA ‘destroyed a sociological community close to downtown services and employment '...Most of the costs involved with moving and relocation were borne by the residents...Only 545 of the original 1,117 households residing in the complex [Techwood] at the beginning of the redevelopment planning received relocation housing.’ Former residents report that relocation assistance was minimal and did not result in replacement housing for most of those displaced” (26-27)


  • “In the case of the displaced from Techwood/Clark Howell homeless, the process involved a gradual turning of the spotlight onto residents who were even slightly late paying rent. They were the first to go. Next up for eviction were families who allowed others who weren’t on their leases to stay, even for a while. If a tenant household included anyone charged with a felony, that family lost its housing. Many families who feared eviction left on their own to avoid that process. Others stayed and tried to participate in a process that was confusing at best and completely locked down at worst. They knew that the smallest offense would take their housing” (27).


  • “Residents were shown videos of the mixed income housing that would replace their units. But they were never told that only 30% of those new units would be rented by people from the lowest income levels. They were not told that the screening for those new apartments would include credit checks and background checks, which most of those original residents would not pass” (27).



  • “Some of those [Techwood] families were moved to other housing projects that had been emptied for the relocation. The game of ‘musical chairs’ played instead with housing units, left hundreds of families looking for replacement housing and never finding it. Some moved south of the city using time-sensitive housing vouchers that were good for only a few years. Others found that even the vouchers failed to provide them with consistently affordable housing because of the cost of utilities” (28).


  • “Another development that took advantage of Olympic-related resources occurred in the old mill village, Cabbagetown, a little to the east of downtown. It was in 1995, ‘during a time of rapid renewal and gentrification within Atlanta's neighborhoods, the Mill was sold to Aderhold Properties for conversion into lofts....Today the old Fulton Bag and Cotton Mill is a gated community called the ‘Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts’ with 504 loft spaces for lease with prices ranging from $655.00 to $1800.00 per month’” (30).


  • “Finally, at least 30,000 residents of low income housing in Atlanta were displaced to prepare for the Olympics. Many landlords also refused to renew leases, cancelled agreements, and raised their rents in a frantic, speculative move to cash in on the Olympic housing potential” (30).


  • “Techwood/Clark Howell Housing Community included 1,195 units before the Olympics; after the Olympics it became the Centennial Place Apartments with 360 subsidized units (30% for former income-level, not former residents) under private management…East Lake Meadows with 650 units and became The Villages at East Lake, with only 270 units rented to very low income households…Carver Homes would become the Villages at Carver and would lose 700 units…Grady Homes – all 495 units destroyed in 2006, with plans for 615 new units, only 222 of which will be designated for “poor” residents…Capitol Homes is gone completely, with a loss of 368 units” (39-40).


Barcelona 1992


Anna Sànchez, Roser Plandiura, and Vanesa Valiño, Barcelona 1992: International Events and Housing Rights: A Focus on the Olympic Games (Geneva: Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 2007),


  • “The people rehoused in Llevant Sud interviewed for this research said that they still missed their original neighbourhoods even after 15 years in their new homes. They were still waiting for improvements to the public spaces to be carried out; in particular improvements to the green areas below the buildings, which were still unattended and remained dirty and unused. These improvements had been promised by the Council at the time of the relocation. They also expressed unhappiness at difficulties experienced as a result of being housed in state-owned property (i.e. problematic neighbours housed through social services)” (30).


  • “The degradation and unsafe atmosphere of these buildings contrasts with the development of the neighbourhoods of the Vil·a Olímpica (where the Olympic Village had been) at Poblenou; now a medium- to upper-class district where residents enjoy a high quality of life” (30).


  • “Plan 22(a) was established to carry out the rejuvenations, with the aim of turning the old industrial neighbourhood into a technological area. In practice, this transformation led to the failure of existing companies, and to speculation which benefited the largest international real estate agencies and multinationals. A vast area of land was therefore allocated for the building of offices with an uncertain future and with no relationship to the neighbourhood” (32).


  • “The organisation and celebration of the Olympic Games had a negative impact basically on affordability….strong increases in the prices of housing for rent and for sale (from 1986 to 1993 the cumulative increase was 139% for sale prices and nearly 145% in rentals)…[a] drastic decrease in the availability of public housing (from 1986 to 1992, there was a cumulative decrease of 75.92%)….[g]radual decrease in the availability of private houses for rent (from 1981 to 1991 the cumulative decrease was 23.69%)…The preparation and celebration of the Olympic Games took place in the context of minimal state intervention in the area of housing. The Olympic Games served to reinforce and exacerbate the consequences of the privatisation of a basic need such as housing” (47)


  • “From 1986 to1993, there was a 139% cumulative increase in house prices in Barcelona.…Between 1986 and 1993, there was also a 144.55% increase in rents” (49).


  • “Between 1986 (the year of the Olympic candidature) and 1991 (a year before the celebration of the Olympic Games), the construction of public housing decreased radically, with the number of public houses built in the Ciutat Vella district of Barcelona falling from 2,647 in 1986 to only 9 in 1991. The decline in the construction of public housing in Barcelona before and after the Olympic Games cannot be disassociated from the evolution of the construction sector in the free market during the same period” (50).



  • “In February 1991…the Council [claimed] that a portion of the houses constructed [in the Olympic Village in Pobleneu] would be dedicated to groups with special needs.…As it turned out, the houses were promoted through a public-private partnership for sale to middle/upper class families at free market price, with prices ranging between 200.000 and 300.000 pesetas per m2” (52).

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