Do you have general questions about CHF BC or co-op housing? Below are answers to some of the questions we hear most often.

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A housing co-op is an organization incorporated under the Cooperative Association Act that provides housing to its members. Members purchase a share to join and elect directors to govern the co-op. Most housing co-ops in BC are non-profit co-ops with a rental (not equity) model of housing, though there are also a few equity housing co-ops here too. Co-op members do not have a landlord and monthly rents are called "housing charges". Co-ops are inspired and guided by the seven international co-op principles in everything they do. Find out more about life in a housing co-op.
Members of non-profit housing co-ops come from a variety of backgrounds and have a range of incomes making all co-ops "mixed-income communities." Some members pay a full housing charge. Other members with lower incomes may pay less based on a model of providing rent geared to income or RGI, and sometimes with a rental subsidy for those with an existing agreement with government.
No. Non-profit housing co-ops are mixed income communities with homes for people with a range of income levels. Generally, co-ops house people of low and moderate incomes.
A monthly housing charge is like rent. It’s what the members pay each month to live in the co-op. See above for an explanation of subsidy. Housing charges are usually set to the amount the co-op needs to break even, after paying all its operating expenses and setting money aside for long-term capital repairs. In most co-ops members approve changes to the housing charges by passing an ordinary resolution at a general meeting.
Non-profit housing co-ops that still receive support from the government (federal or provincial) to help house some lower-income members sometimes call that support a subsidy or rent supplement. Housing charges for subsidized units are adjusted to fit with household income ("rent-geared-to-income" or "RGI") usually based on calculating with the formula that 30% (or a another percentage) of the member's income on rent (or housing charges) is the most someone should have to pay. Subsidy (or a rent supplement) makes up the difference between what the member pays and the co-op’s normal ("full" or break-even) housing charge. However, the amount of subsidy is limited and just because someone is eligible does not mean the co-op will have the subsidy to help. When co-op agreements with government end, subsidies can end. Because of lobbying efforts, some co-ops now have the option to get extensions of subsidies and governments are speaking optimistically about continued opportunities after 2020. Learn more about co-op operating programs here co-op funding programs.
Housing co-ops are independent organizations and each one has its own application process. CHF BC does not accept applications for housing co-ops. You can find listings for all co-ops in our co-op directory at Find A Co-op. You can select for co-ops with open waiting lists and read their instructions for how to apply. Some co-ops will ask you to send a self-addressed stamped envelope so they can mail you an application. Others will provide a downloadable application or a link to an external website where you can find an application. Still others will ask you to come to an orientation meeting to get an application.
To become a member of a co-op, you must purchase a share. Shares also stand as the co-op's working capital. Each share gives a member a vote in general meetings. Shares usually range from $1,000 to $7,000 (a typical share purchase is around $2,000). Some co-ops permit jointly held shares (held between two or three members in a household); others prefer a one-member-per-household model. A share is a little bit like a damage deposit in that you get the money back when you leave the co-op, unless the unit has been damaged, or you owe money to the co-op, in which case the share is used to cover repair costs or settle the debt. Non-profit housing co-ops do not return share purchases with interest. Please note that in most co-ops, you need to give two months' notice prior to moving out. CHF BC administers two programs to help people in special need with no-interest loans to afford the initial share purchase once they've been accepted to join a housing co-op: the Disability Trust and the Domestic Violence Relief Fund.
Most non-profit housing co-ops are (or were) funded by government programs. The programs have different rules, and three of those programs set income ceilings for members on move-in. Section 61 co-ops, Homes BC co-ops and a few Index-Linked Mortgage (ILM) co-ops have income ceilings, as do most co-ops built since 2010 in the City of Vancouver. The dollar amount of the income ceiling varies.
Because co-op waiting lists are long, the wait to meet with a co-op for an interview after applying could range from at least three months to three years or longer. Some co-ops are not accepting applications. Those hoping to pay less than full housing charges (and qualify for a subsidy) will usually have a longer wait than those able to pay the the full charges.
No. CHF BC does not play a role in the application or member selection process of housing co-ops. Admission to a housing co-op is determined by each co-op. CHF BC does provide an online directory of co-ops as a public information service.