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.
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.
In a housing co‑op members have the right to:
- Vote on the annual budget, which sets the monthly housing charges
- Elect a board of directors made up of people who live in your co‑op
- Run for the board of directors yourself
- Receive audited financial statements that show how the co‑op spent your money
- Pay only a limited portion of your income for your housing, if you meet eligibility rules
- Live there for as long as you like, if you keep to the by-laws agreed on by the co‑op membership