- Title: Five years after London Olympics, Games' legacy is off-track for locals
- Date: 26th July 2017
- Summary: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (FILE - JULY 27, 2012) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY FIREWORKS OVER OLYMPIC STADIUM AND PARK
- Embargoed: 9th August 2017 23:13
- Keywords: London 2012 Olympic Games social housing legacy affordable homes homelessnesss east London Stratford
- Location: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- City: LONDON, ENGLAND, UK
- Country: United Kingdom
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA0016RHREPZ
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Five years ago on July 27 London celebrated the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games with fireworks and much fanfare about the legacy it promised to poverty-stricken Stratford where the Games were held.
The Athlete's Village would provide social housing and locals would be lifted out of poverty with the creation of new jobs - or so organisers pledged.
Stratford certainly looks different from how it did before the Games, but the transformation hasn't benefitted all.
"They priced me out of my home, my community and my son out of his school," Sharon O'Callaghan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
A local nurse, she was given a reduced-rent apartment in the Olympic Park as part of the social housing policy.
But her rent sky-rocketed by almost 25 percent in the first year alone and continued rises meant she was eventually forced to move out and leave London.
Despite a nine billion pound investment in the Olympic Park, homelessness and families needing to be housed in emergency accommodation has increased by more than 60 percent since the year before the 2012 Games.
"I think on homes we are doing particularly badly, we are very very far behind the target of reaching 61,000 new homes in this area by 2020. I think the last measure we looked at we were below 6,000. There are more homes being built, but the question is who can afford them," said Sian Berry, Chair of the London Assembly Housing Committee.
The skyline of Stratford has transformed from industrial units to high-spec sports venues, mega-malls, and luxury tower blocks, but residents are left asking whether they will be able to afford to remain living there.
On the streets the high levels of homelessness is evident.
When the Athlete's Village was sold off over half of the units were supposed to fill the "affordable" housing quota. But new rules meant a new definition of "affordable" which included anything up to 80 percent of market rates, allowing limitless increases as the market rate soared.
"I was renting a dream but they were making that dream more and more unaffordable," said O'Callaghan-Evans.
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