In June, the CHASEO staff team and several of our Board members had the pleasure of attending CHF Canada’s 2016 Annual General Meeting in Hamilton, ON. It was a great opportunity to talk with others in the co-op sector and to learn from workshops.
One particularly interesting presentation came from Tim Welch Consulting, on the topic of “Co-op Housing: The Next Generation”.
Welch shared insights from his experience helping co-ops expand to offer more units, and to have a mix of unit types that meets their members’ needs. He spoke about assisting Four Feathers Housing Co-op (London ON), Halam Park Housing Co-operative (Hamilton, ON), and Albert Haenchen Co-operative Homes (Waterloo, ON) with expansion projects.
Some of the main reasons co-ops chose to expand were:
- To add one-bedroom units to support aging in place
- To add accessible units
- To add or improve common areas
While each project and each co-op are different, he identified success factors that he found made a redevelopment project more likely to succeed:
- Consistent and dedicated Board and staff leadership
- Keeping members informed of plans and progress, and focused on goals
- Ability to contribute own operating funds, land, or equity through refinancing
- Good financial state
- Willingness to take reasonable risks
- Having a plan prepared in advance of capital funding proposal calls
- Supportive municipality
Welch identified many innovative paths and strategies that these co-ops took to make redevelopment possible:
- Obtaining financing through Community Forward Fund (a Canadian nonprofit that makes loans to, and arranges financing for, nonprofits and charities), that did not have to be registered on the title.
- Combining City Funding with Aboriginal funding
- Successfully advocating for the municipality to transfer RGI to some of new units for overhoused members
- Collaborating with other area co-ops on a larger-scale development
- Advocating to elected officials and senior civil servants for a more flexible program to help manage cash flow requirements in pre-construction phase
- Selling off scattered units to raise capital
- Expanding through equity co-op model
Overall, the message from the workshop that came through loud and clear was that in order to expand to meet members’ needs, co-ops need to be proactive, innovative, and goal-oriented.
CHF Canada members can access the workshop materials from the 2016 AGM here.