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Co-operative Housing – Is it an option for you?

Written by Kevin Flaherty – KHS Housing Coordinator
Edited by Alexandra Halliday

Join us at an Information Meeting on Co-op Housing In Kaslo, hosted by the Kaslo Housing Society.

St. Andrew’s Heritage Hall, 500 4th Street, Kaslo,

Tuesday, August 20th at 7 pm.

We welcome all who are interested to this informal 90 minute session. Feel free to bring your children.

One of the resource persons in attendance will be Lorien Quattrocchi, a highly involved housing co-operative member and leader in the Province.

Over the past 16 months, as part of my work for the Kaslo Housing Society, a common thread throughout my many conversations with Kaslo residents has been the lack of accessible and affordable housing in Kaslo and area. Escalating house prices and stagnant incomes make it impossible for many Kaslo residents to buy homes of their own, even older homes, which could be purchased at a lower cost and renovated by their new owners. Many of the residents I have spoken with are working steady and paying a regular rent – but they have been forced to move or are terrified of being asked to move out, due to circumstances beyond their control due to an extreme shortage of suitable rental homes. These people, of course, hope, that the Kaslo Housing Society will succeed in creating some form of affordable public housing, run by the KHS and occupied by themselves as tenants. As you can see from our Our Housing Projects page, the KHS has been diligently working with various funders and partners to develop and implement a variety of housing approaches and solutions to relieve the pressures of this lack of accessible and affordable housing in Kaslo.
As this is a serious situation, which affects the welfare and future of the entire community, the Kaslo Housing Society is desirous to bring together the community to talk about working cooperatively to address our housing needs.
Co-ops are described by many of their residents as great places to live alone, to share a living space with someone, to raise children or to age in place. Cooperative housing organizations are, and have for decades been, a common feature of most Canadian cities, but unfortunately there also exist many misconceptions about what co-op housing is.
Many people confuse co-op housing with condominium or strata ownership structures. In fact, however, housing co-ops more resemble their sister organizations, credit unions. They are controlled and run by the membership, and you must live there to be a member. The co-op housing structure does not allow for absentee owners or for minority controlling proxy voting. Co-op housing, which has been growing in popularity in the country, shares some similarities with co-housing,
Another common misconception is, that everyone, who is not a home owner, loses out on the opportunity to ‘get their equity’. But for many the goal of a secure home is more realistic and more important than thinking of their home as a financial investment.
I have spoken with people in our community, who have lived the positive experience of being part of housing cooperatives. These experiences need to be heard, need to shape the expectations of what co-op housing ‘lives’ like and how it could become part of the housing solution for Kaslo residents.
One person elaborated on the co-op housing experience as follows: “Individual home ownership sounds great if you can afford it. I could always pay the rent but never made enough money to get a down payment. Our co-op may not provide me with individual equity, but it doesn’t generate individual risk either. Instead, I get a secure and well constructed place to live at a reasonable cost and for as long as I need and as long as I participate in the co-op. I think that is a good trade.”
Another person talked about co-op housing members having a say in their housing, even if they don’t have individual ownership. All co-op members live in the co-op. This means, that everyone has a stake in decisions. “The co-op organizational structure means that we all have a voice and a vote and that our vote carries the same weight as everyone else’s.”
The Kaslo Housing Society is holding this information meeting to share some basic information about some common types of cooperative housing and to ascertain, if enough people might be interested in working together, with us to move forward on their own co-op housing project. We look forward to seeing you all at this meeting, so that, together we can explore this potential partial, hands-on solution to our local housing crisis.