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Housing co-ops optimistic after federal budget

(Ottawa, March 22, 2017) – Canada’s housing co‑operatives are calling on the federal government to act fast on its promises to address Canada’s housing crunch and to protect existing affordable co‑operative housing. Following the release of a federal budget that committed long-term, new investments aimed at addressing affordable housing challenges, co‑ops are saying they are ready to work with the federal government to address Canada’s housing crunch.

In Toronto, where the imminent end of subsidies for low-income households could affect thousands, co‑op members are keeping a close eye on the federal budget. “I’m constantly worried about how I will afford to stay here when government subsidies expire at the end of the year,” said Roger Zuraw, a 68-year old member of the Swansea Village Co‑op. “The federal housing assistance I receive is a lifesaver. Without this help, I would face certain poverty. There’s just nowhere else to live.”

“Housing co‑ops applaud the federal government’s significant new investment in housing,” said Nicholas Gazzard, Executive Director of the Co‑operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada). “The lack of choice and affordability in housing for low- and moderate-income Canadians is a major issue, and housing co‑ops offer a proven solution. We’re ready to partner with the federal government to leverage our successful model to create new affordable co‑op homes for Canadians.”

Over a quarter of a million Canadians live in housing co‑operatives, including over 20,000 households who depend on government subsidies to keep their homes affordable. Existing funding programs are ending in large numbers, and CHF Canada has called on the federal government to recommit long term support starting in budget 2017 in order to protect affordability for low-income households. According to the budget, the federal government intends to preserve a baseline of funding related to these agreements so that affordability is preserved, with details to be defined this year.

In Vancouver, where sky-high housing prices have pushed average Canadians to their financial limit, co‑ops are helping people stay afloat. Shira Standfield works as a neighbourhood planner for the City of Surrey and lives in Twin Rainbows Housing Co‑op in Vancouver’s False Creek. “My husband and I feel lucky to live in our co‑op,” says Standfield. “We both earn decent incomes, but escalating home prices wouldn’t allow us to live in this neighbourhood without putting us under financial stress. We need to build more co‑ops in cities so that more people can benefit from affordable and community-minded housing options.”

“Housing isn’t just a big city problem,” said Sharon Oakley, resident of Truro, Nova Scotia. “The majority of my income comes from CPP and Old Age Security. The cost of housing and cost of living is rising, but my income isn’t. My housing co‑op’s stable costs and safe community ensures that I can continue to live in dignity.”

The Co‑operative Housing Federation of Canada is the voice for the co‑operative housing movement. A quarter of a million Canadians live in housing co‑operatives.

For more information
Scott Jackson, Program Manager, National Communications, 604-879-4116 ext. 122, cell 778.227.3864, sjackson@chfcanada.coop

Tim Ross, Director, Strategic Affairs, 613-230-2201 ext 222, cell 613-314-6267, tross@chfcanada.coop