Housing co-ops gather in Niagara Falls to protect and expand Canada’s stock of co-op homes

Co-op housing poster illustrated by GTA weekly Toronto news

Over 700 members and supporters of Canada’s housing co-ops are gathered in Niagara Falls for the annual meeting of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada). Among other things, they are exploring exciting new initiatives for investing and partnering towards the creation of more co-op housing to address Canada’s growing housing affordability crisis.

The federal government’s National Housing Strategy is expected later this year, and many provincial and municipal governments eager to address an urgent need for affordable housing. CHF Canada members will consider proposals to potentially leverage billions of dollars worth of existing co-op housing real estate to secure new investments and partnerships required to develop new co-op homes.

Such development is already taking place thanks to innovative community land trusts in Ontario and British Columbia. This has led to the construction of Fraserview Housing Co-op in Vancouver, scheduled to open as BC’s largest housing co-op in 2018 thanks to a creative partnership between the CHF BC, the City of Vancouver and other public and private partners.

“This model could be applied very successfully elsewhere across Canada,” said CHF Canada Executive Director Nicholas Gazzard. “And if members approve today’s resolution CHF Canada will work to bring financial and real estate assets of Canada co-op housing sector to the table in partnership with government and the private sector to develop secure, community-oriented affordable co-op housing for the benefit of Canadians.”

Another concern of Canada’s housing co-ops is the looming end of federal operating agreements and rent subsidies for over 20,000 co-op households which threatens residents with homelessness unless action is taken. Although the federal government promised to address this issue in Budget 2017, housing co-ops are still waiting to hear the details of a solution so they can assure low income households that the future of their housing is secure.

“The people most at risk here are Canadians with low incomes, the elderly, people with disabilities and new Canadians,” said CHF Canada President Nicole Waldron. “We look forward to getting news to these vulnerable households that their housing will remain affordable.”

CHF Canada’s Annual Meeting also includes education workshops, a national business meeting and tourist activities designed to give conference participants a taste of Niagara Falls.

CHF Canada is the national voice of the Canadian co-operative housing movement. Its members include over 900 non-profit housing co-operatives and other organizations across Canada. More than a quarter of a million Canadians live in housing co-ops, in every province and territory.

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