There are many kinds of co-operatives: food co-ops, co-op daycares, credit unions, retail co-ops, worker co-ops and housing co-ops. Any group of people can form a co-operative. The members own the co-operative and the co-operative provides a service they need. Housing co-operatives provide housing.
Since the 1930s, Canadians have been building and living in housing co-ops. The people who live in the housing are the co-op’s members. They elect, from among themselves, a board of directors to manage the business of the co-op. Each member has one vote. Members work together to keep their housing well-managed and affordable.
Over the years, federal and provincial governments have funded various programs to help Canadians create non-profit housing co-ops. The co-ops developed under these programs provide good quality, affordable housing. There are more than 261 non-profit housing co-ops comprising more than 14,500 units in British Columbia.
As a co-op member, you have security of tenure. This means that you can live in your home for as long as you wish if you follow the rules of the co-op and pay your housing charge (rent). As a co-op member, you have a say in decisions that affect your home. You and your neighbours own your homes co-operatively. Members form a community that works together to manage the co-op. Co-op communities are made up of all kinds of people – people with different backgrounds and incomes and special needs. These diverse and vibrant communities are the unique strength of the co-op housing movement.