In Cahdco’s ongoing effort to develop more affordable housing alternatives, partnerships have emerged as a driving force of change. In our recent event, we partnered with The Alliance to End Homelessness OttawaOttawa Community Land Trust (OCLT), Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), and Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto (CHFT) to explore the challenges, strategies, and future of affordable co-operative housing in Canada.

 

Credits: Cahdco

 

The morning panel was hosted by Glenn Grignon, Member, Sandy Hill co-op, and María Bedoya, Network Coordinator, Ottawa Community Benefits Network. Panelists Tom Clement, Executive Director, CHFT, and Courtney Lockhart, Associate Director, Public Affairs & Policy of CHF joined to share their thoughts with the audience.

Discussion began by defining key differences between regular affordable housing and co-operative affordable housing. Lockhart explained how unlike a normal development, tenants (co-op members) collectively hold ownership of a property. Clement added that co-op’s have a democratic decision-making process where tenants are all given an equal vote, ensuring that any changes align with tenants’ best interests.

After clarifying the topic, questions were centered around the panelist’s organizations. When asked about the development strategy of CHF, Lockhart highlighted the continued focus on capacity building within the organization and sector as a whole. Improved asset management, sustainable energy, and aging-in-place plans were all raised as important fields for co-operatives to focus on.

When asked about specific measures such as the yet to launched federal Co-operative Housing Development Program, all panelists concluded that there is a need for greater political pressure. The proposed program would bring “$500 million of funding on a cash basis from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund to launch a new Co-operative Housing Development Program aimed at expanding co-op housing in Canada.” (Govt. of Canada, 2022) To support this measure, click the link or scan the QR code below.

chfcanada.coop/take_action

Credit: Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

 

Engaging the community, specifically young people became a reoccurring theme during the discussion. Actively calling for people to reach out within their personal networks was proven an effective tactic for growing a co-op. Outside of strategy, Clement shared an anecdote highlighting the impact that young people drive when trying to create change.

Expanding the scope of focus to developing housing co-ops in rural areas, both panelists highlighted the importance of engaging with municipal partners for support. As the primary source for local information and legislation, it is evidently important that have those strong relationships would greatly increase a co-operative’s chances of success. Specific examples such as the distributed model of Compass Nova Scotia (Compass NS) serve as a strong proof of concept for rural co-operative development.

 

Credit: Compass NS

 

On the topic of creating a co-operative, lots was shared. Panelists stressed the large challenges and capacity requirements that modern development faces, suggesting that interfacing with existing networks is often the most effective strategy. Sources of funding such as CHF Canada’s Growth and Sustainability Fund were highlighted.

Closing out the conversation, focus was directed toward the immense need for affordable housing options. Clement anecdotally shared that there were roughly 6,000 applicants for 13 available units within a 26-unit coop housing development in downtown Toronto. It’s clear that demand exists, and capacity doesn’t. If you want to help create affordable housing, consider sending an email to the Minister of Housing and your MP through the following link: chfcanada.coop/take_action.

Panel Discussion: Federal Budget 2024 & Affordable Housing

Join  us at our latest panel discussion on the federal budget and what it means for affordable housing!