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A look at co-op housing in Waterloo Region as feds boost funding


This week’s fiscal update from the federal government highlights the idea of using co-operative housing as a tool in the battle for housing affordability.

“In Canada, people know that they can buy and they can rent,” said Courtney Lockhart from the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF). “But there is actually a lot of different alternatives and co-op housing is one of them.”

Most co-ops operate on a non-profit model, which means rents – also called housing charges – are set collectively so they just cover the housing, Lockhart said.

“It’s at-cost housing,” she said.

Willowside Housing Co-op is one of 26 co-op places in Waterloo Region and it’s where Carine Nind has called home for 30 years.

“In housing co-op, you can relax if you know that you can meet your housing charge of your rent,” said Nind, who the community development worker at Willowside. 

The idea was popularized in the 1970s and 1980s.

“And then we basically had a 30 year drought,” Lockhart said. “2022 is the first federal commitment to invest in co-op housing in over 30 years through the co-op housing development program.”

In the most recent fiscal update Minister Freeland announced over $300 million for new co-op projects along with the removal of GST on new projects.

Advocates said they hope these incentives lead to a major boost in new projects.

Of the 26 local co-ops and a dozen more in Brantford in Guelph, there are currently zero vacancies at any location.

It’s an old concept with new funding, hoping to offer fair and affordable housing for many people.

“It pays for itself and you never lose the rent geared to income component,” said Nind. Top Stories

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