Every business and community in BC is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and housing co-ops are no exception. CHF BC members have been asking us for advice on a range of issues. You will find our answers and resources below.COVID-19 General Guidance | Helping Members in Financial Distress | Resources for meetings during COVID-19 | Concern for Community
Find information and links to some great general resources for your community at this time.
Our advice at the moment is that co-ops should do whatever they can to be part of the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means limiting contact among people and practising social distancing to the greatest extent possible.
We canvassed the views of maintenance services including our own at COHO and the staff at BC Housing. They are providing maintenance and repair services to occupied homes only in emergency situations. All regular or routine maintenance is being restricted to vacant homes and common areas (interior and exterior). We think this is prudent in the circumstances and important for the protection of co-op members, staff and tradespeople. Of course there are always situations that call for judgement to be exercised. If, for example, a home is vacant because a member is away on vacation, it may be possible to have work done safely in the home while the member is away. That’s a decision for the board to make.
The board is charged with a special responsibility to act at all times in the best interests of the co-op. This sometimes calls for tough choices to be made. In the current situation, it is difficult for us to imagine that it’s in the co-op’s best interests to proceed with business as usual.
Trail Appliances has now closed all retail stores and outlets to protect the safety of their staff and clients. They are still able to provide curbside delivery but cannot offer haul-away service at this time. If your co-op has an emergency request, please contact Jamie Dosanjh at firstname.lastname@example.org. All other requests should go to email@example.com.
Cabinets and Countertops:
Danube Kitchens, our cabinet and countertops partner on the Mainland, will still provide service on request, while respecting health and safety guidelines. If you have a request, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our flooring partners in the Lower Mainland, CD Contract and K&A Flooring, are both available for service on request, while respecting health and safety guidelines. On Vancouver Island, the Island Flooring Centre is closed but available on request. For any flooring requests, please contact Chrissy Miller at email@example.com.
Our partner RONA stores are still open and you can shop until 6:00 p.m. You can also shop online. If you need more information or to request a service, please contact Brad LeGrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our telecom program partner TELUS has let us know that their technicians will not enter units to upgrade wiring to fibre-optic. Regular internet speed upgrades and repair appointments are still happening with modifications for safety. You can visit TELUS.com/covid19 for the most up to date information on how they are supporting clients in this uncertain time. And for any members with questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
Our Waste and Recycling partners Waste Connections on the Mainland and GFL Environmental on the Island continue to provide all services with no interruption.
If you have additional questions about any of our Group Buying programs, including ways we can help your co-op access group buying services at this time, please contact Arnold Sang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here you will find resources to help your co-op and its members deal with financial distress brought on by the challenge of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The BC-TRS will cover partial rent or housing charge payments for eligible tenants or co-op members for three months (April, May and June). It is available for households with qualifying incomes who have experienced a drop of at least 25% in monthly household employment income due to COVID-19. You can find information on the program and a complete list of eligibility criteria HERE.
Members of housing co-ops can receive the benefit if they meet all eligibility criteria and are currently paying the co-op’s maximum housing charge. The co-op cannot be receiving any ongoing operating funding from any level of government. For now, this means that members of Section 61 (1973-1978) co-ops, Section 95 (1979-1985) co-ops, any co-op with an expired CMHC operating agreement, and any co-op developed outside of government programs are eligible. Members of co-ops funded provincially (e.g. Homes BC) are not eligible. We are seeking confirmation of eligibility for members of ILM (1986-2002) co-ops.
The BC-TRS application process involves two steps. A member begins the process by providing proof of address, monthly housing charge, income (and income loss) and contact information for the co-op (including the co-op’s email address). BC Housing will review the application and send an email to the co-op asking for confirmation of the details in the member’s application. The co-op will need to provide its contact and banking information to receive payment by direct deposit. The payment is made directly to the co-op, not to the member.
Payments are not retroactive. You must apply in April to receive payment for all three months. Members applying in May will receive payments for two months.
CHF BC will be seeking additional clarification on eligibility criteria from BC Housing. We strongly encourage members and co-ops who think they may be eligible for assistance based on the information provided so far to apply without delay using the BC Housing application form.
We welcome questions from members at email@example.com.
On March 24, CHF BC issued a memo to all member co-ops called Helping Members in Financial Distress during COVID-19. Thank you for your positive response to that memo. We believe it sets out a sound approach, and this will add to that advice.
If you haven’t communicated with your members about April 1 housing charges, now is the time to do that. We recommend something very simple.
First, we recommend that you send a short notice to all members similar to this sample notice (MS Word file — will download). The purpose of the memo is to advise members that:
CHF BC will publish a summary of the assistance available from all levels of government later today. We will also publish additional information this week to help you make agreements with members to defer housing charge payments if needed.
We are living through a very volatile situation. Things are changing daily, if not hourly, and we will be monitoring developments carefully to ensure that our response is relevant and appropriate. By acting responsibly now, we will be laying the foundation for the weeks and months to come.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and please stay safe.
In response to questions from members we have developed resources that offer the latest guidance to help co-ops.
Here is some information about co-op meetings during the social isolation requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We offered some advice on March 18 to address this issue, but the province’s Corporate Registry has just made things even easier. Co-ops have been given an automatic extension of the deadline for holding an AGM, effective March 31, 2020. Here is the Corporate Registry Bulletin confirming this information.
Between now and September 30, 2020 you will not need to ask the Registry’s permission to postpone the date of your AGM, but you will have to advise your members if you decide to schedule the AGM after the usual deadline. This is a very helpful convenience. There is some ambiguity in the Registry’s announcement and follow-up correspondence, and for the moment it is not clear whether an automatic delay can extend beyond September 30. We will try to clear this up in the next few days, but for now you can safely assume that any AGM can be delayed at least until September 30 as long as you advise your members of your decision.
Thanks for your COVID-19 advice. Our Board is about to meet via video-conference. How do we do Consent Resolutions?
If your board is meeting by video-conference, there is no need for a consent resolution. Consent resolutions are only used where it is not possible to have a meeting, and a video-conference is a valid meeting as long as quorum is present and everyone can hear and respond to each other.
Some things to note about the form of resolution:
You can poll the members by email to find out how they feel about the proposed increase, but that’s not enough to make a binding decision. In some co-ops the board sets the housing charges. In others, new housing charges must be approved by ordinary resolution at a members’ meeting called for that purpose. An email poll is not a meeting, so you’ll need to consider other options.
For more information on meetings, see CHF BC’s advice on meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing co-ops are resilient communities. Their members believe in the values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Here are some ways we continue to demonstrate that during this crisis.
— Nikki Hill (@HillNikki) March 26, 2020