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Co-op Programs

Over the years, both the federal and provincial governments have created programs to support the development of non-profit housing co-ops.

The Community Land Trust also fosters co-op creation.

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The first federal co-op housing program was in place from 1973 to 1978. The Section 61 (formerly 34.18) program offered co-ops a 50-year mortgage at a fixed interest rate (usually 8%) along with a 10% capital grant that was earned over time. Housing charges varied between members. Some members paid more than the break-even 'rents' so that other, low-income members, could pay less (i.e. housing charges geared to income).
The second federal co-op housing program was in place from 1979 to 1985. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provided co-ops developed under the Section 95 (formerly 56.1) program a monthly subsidy to assist a minimum number of low-income members. The amount of subsidy available varied by co-op. The Section 95 program was the most successful in creating co-ops: more than 160 in BC were developed. (Many benefited from agreement extensions that running between 2016 and 2020.)
The third federal co-op housing program was in place from 1986 until 1992. It featured an innovative financing instrument known as the Index Linked Mortgage, a monthly mortgage subsidy from CMHC, and rent assistance for low-income members delivered by the province and cost-shared with CMHC for 30% to 50% of each co-op's households.
The provincial government funded the development of 14 more co-ops with 1,047 homes under the HOMES BC program. HOMES BC co-ops house a mix of low- and moderate-income members.
The scheduled expiry of federal programs created uncertainty for co-ops across the country, as those expiries could mean the end of subsidies. Following a sustained campaign from CHF BC, individual co-ops and members, and CHF Canada, the federal government's Federal Community Housing Initiative (FCHI) included measures to extend support for low-income co-op households. FCHI - Phase 1 offered temporary supports that targeted low-income households in Section 95 co-ops with operating agreements expiring between April 2016 and August 31, 2020. FCHI - Phase 2 (also known as the Rental Assistance Program) takes over From September 1, 2020 to March 31, 2028. It is open to the former FCHI-1 co-ops and other Section 95 co-ops as their agreements come to a conclusion. Other co-ops may be able to benefit from the Rental Assistance Program as it develops.
A growing number of co-ops are starting without a formal program offered by senior government. The Community Housing Sector is actively promoting co-op creation through its own resources. The Community Land Trust plays a major role and has its own rules in helping establish viable mixed-income communities.