Housing co-operatives are non-profit member-governed neighbourhoods – often more affordable than the standard rental market, but with most of the benefits of home ownership, similar to a strata setup.
• Co-ops are owned by their members
• Co-ops are accountable to their members
• Co-ops are connected to their community
Being a co-op member means having control over your housing. It also means you have a responsibility to make sure that your co-op is a well-managed and pleasant place to live. If you join a co-op, you will be expected to do the following:
• Buy shares in the co-op
• Pay a monthly housing charge
• Attend members’ meetings
• Participate in running the co-op
• Join a committee or the board
• Help with maintenance
• Organize social events
Before you apply to become a member, you need to ask yourself if you will have the time and energy to participate in your co-op. The following guidelines are part of the co-operative principles which all co-operatives put into practice:
• open membership
• democratic member control
• economic participation
• co-operative education
• co-operation with other co-operatives
What is subsidy?
Some housing co-ops receive money from the government (federal and/or provincial) to help subsidize a certain number of housing units. The housing charge for these units is adjusted to the income of the household. If a household qualifies for a subsidy, their housing charge is usually set at 25-35% of the household’s income. Not all co-ops currently have subsidy available, and subsidy is not a certainty going forward.
Other co-ops have an RGI (rent geared to income) program setup internally to provide affordable housing to their members.
You can find more information on housing co-ops on the CHF BC (The Co-op Housing Federation of British Columbia) website or the CHF Canada (Co-op Housing Federation of Canada) website.