On Monday, May 12, 2014, I was invited to be part of a panel at a community forum on affordable housing. Vancouver city councillor, Geoff Meggs reached out to me to inform the discussion on how co-operative housing models can help address affordability in the city.
The event, entitled An Affordable Home: How can we make it happen in Vancouver, was a series of policy forums hosted by Vision Vancouver—a municipal party that now holds the mayorship and a majority of city council. Otehr panelists inlcluded Councillor Meggs, Lyndsay Poaps, a public engagement advocate (and former park board commissioner), and Jim O’Dea, a co-founder of Terra Housing, a social purpose real estate firm.
The event received some local media attention. Here is an excerpt from the Vancouver Sun:
Co-op housing was one model touted by Yuri Artibise as worthy of renewed focus in the coming years.
“What we all want is a place to call home,” said Artibise, the vice president of the Cooperative Housing Federation of B.C.
He said co-ops provide security of tenure, a sense of community, affordability for tenants, and don’t require a down payment, but they are losing the support of the federal government and the province is “not stepping up to the plate.”
A common complaint shared by Meggs, Poaps and panelists Jim O’Dea, a housing consultant, and Yuri Artibise, the vice-president of the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C., is the provincial and federal governments are not building enough affordable housing.
Artibise, who lives in a co-op at the Olympic Village, is worried about a bleak future for tenants of co-ops with more than 3,000 B.C. households facing the loss of rental assistance by 2020 when the Federal Co-operative Housing Program shuts down.
“My biggest fear is that the province and the feds won’t step up and we will lose the subsidies — that’s going to be our fight for the next five or six years,” he said.