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Why build co-op housing?

Housing Crisis. Affordability Crunch. Skyrocketing housing costs. 

These are today’s housing headlines. And for good reason.

Homeowners are feeling stress as never before.

Renters are faring even worse, reporting lower quality of life due to record-low vacancy rates (1.5%) and record-high average rent increases (8%). They remain at risk of being evicted which almost always means paying higher rents.

We need more housing supply to meet demand, but not all supply is created equal. Co-op and other forms of non-market community housing are secure. Housing charges (rents) only increase to cover costs, distinguishing it from market housing.

Co-op housing is community-driven solution to the housing crisis.

We need to build more co-operative housing

Today a quarter of a million Canadians live in a housing co-operative.


Co-op housing in Canada is more affordable than private rental housing, because the vast majority of co-ops operate on a not-for-profit basis, resulting in smaller year-over-year increases to housing charges.

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Being a member of a housing co-op is different than being a renter. A a member, you have a say in how your community is run.

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Co-op housing is secure because there is no outside landlord who might sell or move in. Co-op residents are members, not just tenants.

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Co-ops are strong communities. During the pandemic, we heard countless stories of neighbours helping neighbours with childcare, groceries, and other acts of mutual aid that money can’t buy.

But for these reasons, most existing co-ops rarely have vacancies.

We used to build a lot of co-op housing, and we can do it again

Most co-ops were built with federal and some provincial money allocated decades ago. In 1982, 8% of all rental units constructed in Canada were co-ops. In 2020, less than 1% of all rental units constructed were co-ops. The foundation of those earlier developments was dedicated government support. It was not inexpensive, but it continues to pay dividends.

The case for co-op housing is strong:

  • Over time, housing co-ops become even more affordable.
  • There is no flipping or renoviction. Housing co-ops are an investment in security and permanent affordability.
  • More co-op homes result in productivity gains and a GDP boost. Growing the proportion of Canada’s community housing stock to the OECD average of 7% percent would boost GDP by $67 to $136 billion.

Learn more about how you can support the next generation of co-op housing development: