How Housing Co-ops Create Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive Communities

  14 March 2023

"I don’t think that there is a formula that leads to leadership but rather a choice everyday that we make as a community to foster growth."
Essay by Kate Lorimer, 2022 CHF BC Scholarship recipient.

The quote from Margaret Mead “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has” was one of the motivating factors for my husband and I to join Tyee Housing Co-operative. I believe that a housing co-op should reflect the community we want to see which can lead to far reaching impacts in the greater community. Including and valuing the voices that have previously not been heard helps our co-op communities expand and implement the important aspects of growth which is so crucial to our success.

Something that motivates me, both in working in the midwifery model of care but also in accessing the benefits of co-operative housing, is that they both acknowledge not only one aspect of life. They value that everyone has lived experience, and that growth throughout someone’s life builds and becomes a wealth of knowledge.

Kate working as a birth doula.

As a long-time member of the membership committee—I have been on the committee since joining Tyee co-op in 2012—our focus has been embracing the unique contributions people bring and building a neighborhood that is diverse and highlights the richness of the community. I feel by seeing the vibrancy that our co-op has within the greater community has led to more understanding of co-op living and in turn led others to seek out and join co-ops themselves.

In the midwifery model of care a big component of how we practice is by creating conversation and facilitating informed choice discussions. This is where the individual in our care is really the decision maker and we provide evidence-based information and offer options that are available. I think that this model can be translated into many aspects of co-operative leadership and membership. People who feel like they have a say in the decisions being made are more engaged and invested in their surroundings. Working together for a common beneficial outcome flows together and can revitalize communities.

I don’t think that there is a formula that leads to leadership but rather a choice everyday that we make as a community to foster growth. Gathering members that bring their own experience and expertise to take on building a community can have far reaching effects. The unique support that co-operative housing provides allows members to focus on the talents that they have.

What we have learned through research and qualitative investigation is that listening to diverse communities about what they know their needs are, and collaborating on how we can work together, can make sure our communities are a collective of the multicultural environment we all strive for. With that diverse community our members can support and encourage growth in different areas that members want to succeed in; building our knowledge base and improving our neighbourhoods.

Kate is pursuing a Bachelor Degree in Midwifery at the University of British Columbia.

Lean more about CHF BC’s Scholarship Program.  Applications for the 2023 Scholarships are open until March 31, 2023.