At Each for All we are elated to hear the news that the federal Liberals have allocated $30 million over the next two years to maintain the federally administered low-income housing subsidies for social housing providers, including housing co-ops. This is fantastic news for our local housing co-ops! And is the direct result of the tremendous efforts of the housing co-op sector whose voice was clearly heard during the elections.
The You Hold The Key campaign originated with members of the Co-operative Housing Federation of British Columbia (CHFBC). This was the housing co-op’s rallying campaign for the low-income rental subsidy issue around the election. On Each For All, we have followed the campaign through interviews (“monthly checkins”) with Thom Armstrong, Executive Director of CHFBC. It has been exciting to listen to the campaign unfold from the beginning of 2015, gain amazing momentum through the election, and now to see the allocation of federal funds by the new government – a true testament to the power of co-operation!
The issue is pretty simple; many of our housing co-ops are paying off their 35 year federally-backed loans this decade. Some started to pay them off last year, more this year, a peak of co-ops will in 2017 followed by more in the years to follow. These federally backed agreements also included rent-geared-to-income subsidies, which allow the co-ops to provide an economically diverse community. As the loans are paid off, the agreements end and so do the subsidies. Many housing co-ops are facing imminent financial crisis. With aging buildings requiring costly maintenance, they cannot afford to continue these low income subsidies and also invest in their infrastructure. This potentially means the loss of hundreds homes for low income families in BC and across Canada.
This allocation from the federal government means communities have 2 more years to develop a long-term solution. With the housing strategy responsibility residing with the provincial government since the 80s, what role will the provinces play in this solution? Does this allocation mark the beginning of a renewed involvement in housing at the federal level? What’s going to happen next?
The You Hold The Key campaign isn’t over yet; stay tuned on the third Tuesday of each month to hear the latest news from the co-op housing sector from Thom Armstrong.
For more information on how the budget announcement affects co-ops please read: