Peel Housing Programs & Initiatives
What is Co-operative?
Like non-profit housing, co-operative housing is a form of publicly funded affordable rental housing run on a not-for-profit basis. Co-operative housing is broadly geared towards low to moderate income households and its residents represent a wide cross-section of the community. The senior levels of government turned to these models of community sector housing 30 years ago as an alternative to large-scale, government-run “public housing”.
Unlike non-profit housing, co-operatives are collectively owned and run by their residents. Each household is a member and part-owner of the non-profit co-op corporation. The co-op corporation in turn rents the building’s units to member households. Co-operative housing is funded through these rents and subsidies from various government programs. Each co-op is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors democratically elected from among the residents. Members are expected to volunteer and actively participate in the life of the co-operative by assisting with a committee, serving on the Board of Directors, or performing some other useful task.
The member’s volunteer efforts help to keep overall costs to a minimum. Members vote on the co-op’s annual budget, which sets the monthly housing charges or rent and determines, for example, how much the co-op will spend on property upkeep. If the co-operative generates a surplus, the Board can use it to pay for future expenses and improvements to the co-op, or to reduce members’ rents. The member-run co-operative structure helps to create a community-oriented atmosphere among residents.
A portion of tenants in co-operative housing pay rents determined by their incomes (known as rent-geared-to-income or RGI housing) and the remaining portion pay market level rents. Rent levels for RGI units are set at 30% of the tenant’s income. This mix of RGI and market level units better integrates properties into their neighborhoods. This is the key difference between today’s social housing and the “public housing” built by the senior levels of government in the past. Their developments were often large in scale and involved no income-mixing ─ all residents had rents geared to income and this often resulted in socially dysfunctional concentrations of poverty. Co-operative housing is funded through both market and RGI rental income with subsidies from various government programs making up for the shortfall between rental income and the cost of running the facility. Community and charitable contributions are also important in helping to cover this gap.
Co-operative Housing in Peel
The Region of Peel is responsible for administering 15 co-operative housing providers in Peel, with a total of 1,976 units in a mix of townhouse complexes and apartment buildings. Approximately 65% of co-operative tenant members pay rents geared to their incomes and the remaining 35% pay market level rents. Although they have some discretion, co-operatives are obligated to accept tenant members from the central social housing waiting list, maintained in Peel by the Peel Access to Housing (PATH) section. As well, many co-operative housing providers have entered into supportive housing partnerships with community agencies for a fraction of their units. These agencies assist special needs households to live independently despite physical, developmental and psychiatric challenges.
Maps locating and listing all co-operative properties can be found at the end of Section Two. To submit an application for rent-geared-to-income housing, please contact Peel Access to Housing at 905-453-1300 or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Region of Peel is not responsible for all the co-operative housing within its boundaries. The Co-operative Housing Federation (CHF) successfully lobbied the federal government to maintain their administration of the 1,348 local co-operative units built prior to 1984 and funded solely by the federal government. The operating agreements of these co-ops are administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).