Ben Henderson

Co-op Housing – A Good Affordable Choice

Unhappy with the insecurity and expense of renting, many Canadians have turned to housing co-ops for a secure, affordable home in a community setting. Governments have funded housing co-op programs for good-quality, affordable and stable housing. 

As I was door-knocking in last year’s election, I found several wonderful examples of co-ops that have been in Ward 4 for 30 plus years. I found very warm and friendly communities; I was highly impressed with the well-maintained and strongly interconnected communities, with people of all ages and from all walks of life.

A housing co-op looks just like other homes. Bricks and mortar is not what make a co-op, it is the way the residents share responsibilities and control of their homes.  A co-op is different from other housing associations in its ownership structure and its commitment to cooperative principles. These make co-op populations more stable and less transient than rental accommodation. There is no outside landlord. A stable membership tends toward better property upkeep and stronger ties with the surrounding community than rental accommodation. People have security of tenure in a housing co-op as long as they follow the rules of the co-op and pay their monthly housing charge.  Co-ops are more affordable than rental housing because they benefit from less turn-over and also from participation of their members in running the co-op. Co-op housing provides a home on a continual basis, not as an investment.

Most existing co-ops in Edmonton are not accepting applications because of long waiting lists. Today the need is even greater than ever, but without co-op programs, it is difficult.  We need more co-ops as a good affordable alternative to rental housing. With new funding coming from the city/province/federal government, it makes sense to fund new housing cooperatives.

I want to hear from you with your positive suggestions for our city.