Courtesy of ONPHA, CHF Canada and CHASEO
Across Canada, over 2,100 non-profit housing co‑ops are home to about a quarter of a million people in over 90,000 households. There are housing co‑operatives in every province and territory.
Number of Co-op Units
- Co-op Units
Co-ops Across Canada
557 – The total number of housing co-ops in Ontario.
These co-ops provide units for 44,287 households which translates into affordable housing for 123,000 people.
55 – The number of housing co-ops CHASEO represents, plus 9 associate members.
These co-ops provide units for 3,043 households which translates into affordable housing for 12,100 people.
150,000 – The approximate number of households on non-profit waiting lists in Ontario.
14% Less – How much less it costs to operate a housing co-op, as compared to municipal or private non-profit housing.
50% – The average percentage of co-op households that pay a housing charge geared to their income. The amount a household pays may be based on a percentage of their gross income – usually 30-35%. Government funds make up the difference between this payment and the co-op’s full housing charge.
5 & 7 – The number of French-speaking and Bilingual co-ops in Eastern Ontario, respectively.
363 – The number of Accessible units available in Eastern Ontario housing co-ops.
5 – The number of Seniors’ co-ops in Eastern Ontario.
People living in the co-op are members. Members decide on the planning, design, and governance of the co-op.Membership means self-government and participation.
Members select annually from among their co-op community to create a Board of Directors that oversees the management of the co-op.
Members also serve on committees with responsibilities such as new member selection, maintenance, finance and newsletters. Staff is often hired as Office Coordinators, Bookkeepers or Maintenance Workers, and their final decisions are based on direction from the members.
Co-ops are communities within larger communities. Members share common goals and a sense of identity and pride from working together.
Co-op members make good neighbours, and can revitalize decaying neighbourhoods. Many set up recreational, social, educational and mutual-help programs.
Co-ops accommodate all kinds of people. Some co-ops reserve homes for members with special needs. For seniors and many families, co-ops are often just the right combination of security and affordability.
Some groups such as Aboriginal people, new immigrants, women, seniors, francophones, the psychiatrically or physically disabled, and single parents have developed their own co-ops.
Units in a co-op are not owned by individuals. They are owned by the co-operative and cannot be bought or sold for profit. However, most members feel a sense of collective ownership, pride and community in their co-op.
The monthly amount that members pay is called housing charge, as opposed to rent. Some members receive subsidy and do not pay the full housing charge set for their unit. In order to qualify for subsidy a member must show proof of their income, and a calculation is made that sets their housing charge at no more than 30-35% of their gross income – this is called rent-geared-to-income.
Members pay the full housing charge when it is less than 30-35% of their income.
Housing charges are used to cover the co-ops’ costs – its mortgage, capital expenditures, contracted maintenance, office co-coordinator. Housing charges rise only as costs increase.
Do not enter into a rental agreement with their housing co-op.
Do not have a landlord.
Do not have a personal financial investment in their housing.
Are not considered tenants, and so do not fall under the Residential Tenancies Act that governs landlord-tenant disputes and relations.
By-laws are the rules that govern co-ops, and are established and agreed upon by each co-op community. Under this system, co-op members:
Do have the power to create, change, or abolish by-laws at members’ meetings.
Do have a home in their co-op as long as they like, provided they comply with the established by-laws.
Co-ops are governed by its Board of Directors and membership. The Board’s decision-making is always informed and bound by the co-op’s bylaws.
Members have a say in the financial management of their co-op by voting on the annual budget. Housing charges and the allocation of funds for maintaining the co-op are established by the budget. By voting, members affect decisions that impact them directly, both financially and in terms of the quality of their housing.
Few new housing co-ops have been developed in recent years due to a decrease in available funding. In the past, funding for new initiatives came from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, provincial and municipal governments.
Co-ops often receive funding from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation in the form of a subsidy amount based on the co-op’s mortgage. This money is used to make up the difference between a member’s rent-geared-to-income housing charge and the full housing charge.
Many Ontario co-ops that had been provincially funded are now the responsibility of their municipality. This means that the municipality is in charge of overseeing the co-op’s financial status.
Here are some of the issues that CHASEO advocates for:
A Cost-Shared commitment from all levels of government to continue to support Federally-administered housing co-ops as their agreements will government expire.
A 10 year Housing and Homelessness for the city of Ottawa that supports the needs of housing co-ops.
Construction of new housing co-ops.
Development of a National Affordable Housing Program.
Excellent education and training for co-op Boards, staff and members.
Sound financial management of housing co-ops.
Increased awareness of mental health issues in housing co-ops.
CHASEO is funded through annual membership dues paid by member housing co-ops and associate members, by educational and training fees, and revenue from value-added services such as bulk purchasing under a program called Cost Cutters.