Co-op Housing: An Affordable Option in Vancouver

Earlier this week, HuffPost British Columbia posted an article looking at co-operative housing as an affordable housing option in Vancouver. Here are few excerpts:

Co-op Housing In Vancouver Is The Affordable Option You Didn’t Know About

Lore Krill Housing Co-op

To most people, co-operative housing is a vague and often mistaken concept of communal bathrooms, residents with little to no income, and hippies with low hygiene standards.

In reality, co-ops are diverse and supportive communities with self-contained units, convenient amenities, and professional management staff. But despite being in existence since the ’70s, co-op housing flies under the radar and isn’t well understood.


More than 2,000 non-profit housing co-ops — from buildings with four units to complexes with hundreds of apartments — exist in Canada. There are 263 in B.C. alone. Most were created with federal and provincial funding from the 1970s to the 1990s, according to the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C.

A non-profit co-op is like a democratic country: residents have a vote in how it’s run as long as they live there. And because it’s not trying to make money, the co-op can charge lower rates than average private rents.


Each co-op is incorporated as a legal association and governed under the Co-op Act. A board of directors oversees a co-op’s policy and annual budget, which can include spending on maintenance and janitorial staff.

There are, of course, big differences between living in a co-op versus a private rental. There is no landlord, and residents are expected to look out for one another.


Diverse community

All non-profit co-ops have a number of subsidized units open to people on low incomes or social assistance. They pay a monthly fee based on their income, and the difference is covered by the government.

This creates a diverse community that might not be found in a complex of people who can all afford high rents.


Future of co-ops

But co-ops are undergoing a big shakeup because their operating agreements with the federal government have begun to expire. That means low and fixed-income residents — many seniors, single parents, people with disabilities, and new Canadians — will no longer be subsidized.

Without that assistance, about 52,000 co-op members risk losing their homes across the country, estimates the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. That includes 1,500 households in B.C. by 2017.

“This will be a crisis for thousands of families in B.C. who will not be able to afford the full market rent of their co-op homes. It is also a crisis for the co-ops because these are members of their communities who will have to leave,” said Fiona Jackson, communications director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C. (CHF BC).


Read the full article: Co-op Housing In Vancouver Is The Affordable Option You Didn’t Know About

Yuri Artibise

Yuri Artibise is an experienced policy analyst, community engagement practitioner and social media specialist. I have a Master of Public Administration degree with over 10 years of public policy research, analysis, and advocacy experience.

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