Rooftops Canada: Celebrating 35 Years of Housing Partnerships

  21 October 2020

  • Over the years, CHF BC has been very active in our work, hosting many visitors from South Africa and sharing its experiences with the co-op housing model.
    [by Barry Pinsky, Executive Director] Throughout 2020, Rooftops Canada is celebrating 35 years of service around the world.

    As the international program of Canadian co-operative and social housing organizations, Rooftops Canada has dedicated itself to working through partnerships to improve housing and build communities in the Global South.

    Training people and building local institutions are integral parts of what Rooftops Canada does. Together with its domestic and overseas partners, we have brought security, affordable housing and new livelihoods to thousands of urban families previously subsisting in slums and other perilous living conditions. Together, we remain focused on housing rights, gender equality and sustainability.

    Rooftops Canada has been supported by major funders like Global Affairs Canada, but it relies very much on the generosity and engagement of co-operative and social housing organizations such as CHF BC that share in its vision of equitable global development.

    Over the years, CHF BC has been very active in our work, hosting many visitors from South Africa and sharing its experiences with the co-op housing model. In 2017, this included four people from the National Association of Social Housing Organizations and the Social Housing Regulatory Authority who also attended the Housing Central Conference.

    CHF BC staff have also been very involved. Sue Moorhead and Scott Jackson organized many workshops and displays at CHF BC meetings, and published articles about our work in CHF BC publications. Both also served on our Board of Directors. Scott (now with CHF Canada) participated in a study visit to Tanzania and Kenya in 2010, and Sue worked with the Zimbabwe housing co-op movement in 2015. Much earlier, Darren Kitchen participated in a 2008 study visit to Tanzania and Kenya, and helped with outreach to housing co-ops in BC on his return.

    Other BC housing cooperators also played important roles in our work. Mike Alsop participated in our first study visit to Kenya on 2003, and served on our Board. Jamie Ritchie from Vancouver, our housing microfinance expert, carried out numerous overseas visits to support our partners in Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Uganda and South Africa. The numerous hours of volunteer time have also counted towards matching government grants for overseas development programs. And, very importantly, CHF BC continues to provide opportunities through workshops, meetings and its communications program to inform housing co-operators about international development and our overseas projects. In marking our 35th Anniversary, Rooftops Canada is encouraging its supporters, and everyone who believes that decent, affordable housing is a basic human right, to celebrate and support what we have achieved together. We want to especially thank CHF BC and its members for their long-standing partnership.

    • $40 million raised to build capacity for housing programs and projects.
    • Hundreds of Canadian and overseas partners working together on sustainable housing, gender equality and human rights.
    • Over $500 million leveraged for housing and basic services creating thousands of housing-related jobs.
    • Worked with African partners to pioneer housing-linked responses to HIV/ AIDS and urban food security with related advocacy programs.
    • Helped grow housing microfinance programs for local groups and families in Sub-Saharan Africa to provide access to capital – especially for women.
    • Assisted with post-disaster housing programs in Rwanda, Turkey, Central America and Indonesia.
    • Represented civil society on numerous Canadian delegations to UN conferences and engaged thousands of Canadians to support international development around the world.



    1. Mike Alsop (seated left) visiting Akwana Housing Co-op, Nairobi, Kenya 2003
    2. Darren Kitchen (5th from right) with the National Co-op Housing Union of Kenya, study visit 2008
    3. Sue Moorhead with housing cooperators in Harare, Zimbabwe 2015
    4. Jamie Ritchie (on right) with the Uganda Co-op Alliance housing team 2015
    5. Visitors from the South African social housing sector with Thom Armstrong at the CHF BC offices in 2017.