In Canada, co-op housing comes in different types, from big apartment-style complexes to small buildings and townhouses. Members enjoy multiple advantages such as a sense of belonging and community, safety, and affordability.
Responsibilities of Co-Ops and Members
Co-ops have responsibilities to members under relevant acts, legislation, and agreements such as funding agreements, territorial and provincial co-op acts, and occupancy agreements. Members also have a number of duties, including the obligation to follow participation, housing, maintenance, and parking rules, to make timely payments, and attend committee and general meetings. At meetings, members amend rules and bylaws, approve a budget, and discuss financial matters. The rules that members agree on relate to their obligations, rights, and qualifications, finances, transferability of interest, and procedures and conditions for withdrawal.
Co-op members can vote on matters such as housing charges, amending rues and policies, and electing directors. They also have the right to use all services offered by the co-op and make decisions on management and maintenance.
Facts and Figures
There are a total of 2,212 co-ops in Canada, most of which found in Quebec (1,130), Ontario (551), British Columbia (275), and the Prairies (129). About 12 percent of households living in co-op units have a member with a long-term disability, and 50 percent are female single-parent or single-person households. One-fifth of members are immigrants, and 4 percent are visible minorities. Only 4 percent of residents are of aboriginal ancestry.
Organizations and Agencies
The Agency for Cooperative Housing is responsible for the administration of government programs in Prince Edward Island, Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia. The main values and governing principles behind its work are sustainability, accountability, cooperation, innovation, excellence, trust, transparency, and respect. The agency is tasked with the administration of two programs – the Rental Assistance Program and Rent Supplement Program. The latter is a program under which qualified households in PEI and Ontario are eligible to receive assistance. The Rental Assistance Program offers financial support (https://www.smartborrowing.ca/best-secured-credit-cards-in-canada/) with a combined income of $40,000 or less. They are asked to provide proof of regular income such as private disability pension, on-reserve income, family support, alimony, etc. In addition, applicants also present proof of rent which can be in the form of copy of tenancy agreement or lease or rent receipt showing landlord name, date, amount paid, and address. Finally, applicants are asked to show proof of assets such as proof of corporate shares, property tax assessments, or copies of bank statements.
Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada
The federation is committed to ensuring affordable and safe housing and offers resources, advice, and help with locating a cooperative. CHF also offers financial planning services to co-ops that need financing for upgrades and replacements such as heating, siding, and roofing. CHF Canada’s Asset Management Services also provide assistance with project management, procurement for project design, and building condition assessment. In addition, the federation assists co-ops in applying for loan financing (https://www.smartborrowing.ca/) for upgrades and long-term capital replacements. Applicants are offered help with filling in paperwork, reviewing loan offers, preparing applications, and assessments of what repairs or improvements are required. A number of housing co-ops have received funding through CHF, including Windfield Co-operative Homes ($3.8 million), Westwood Place Housing Co-operative ($1.9 million), and Venture Place Housing Co-op ($4.3 million).