News / Vancouver

Metro Vancouver asks province to pick up on co-op housing subsidy slack

With thousands of families living inside housing co-ops around the country facing the potential of losing their homes over the next several years, Metro Vancouver has announced its support for the province to pick up the tab.

The GVRD board gave its stamp of approval at the end of March in support of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC’s (CHF BC) “You hold the key: fix the co-op housing crunch” campaign.

It seeks to have the provincial government invest up to $10 million a year by 2021, the last year when federal contracts currently subsidizing housing co-ops are all set to expire, taking with it the rent assistance one-third of housing residents need to pay their bills.

The executive director of CHF BC Thom Armstrong was pleased to receive their support.

“We’re very happy to have Metro’s support in our campaign to protect vulnerable housing co-op members,” Armstrong said. “This is a vote of support for senior, people with disabilities, single parents, new Canadians and many others who need help from the provincial government to remain in their homes.”

However, the Ministry of Housing has said the province won’t be taking over the subsidies once they end, and instead urge the housing co-ops to see if they can find a solution with BC Housing.

“As a hybrid ownership model, they don’t easily fit into provincial rent assistance programs such as the Rental Assistance Program (RAP) for low income working families or the Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER), for low income seniors, unless the co-op rents out units under a rental agreement,” a spokesperson for the ministry said in an emailed statement.

When asked whether or not the support of Metro Vancouver for the CHF BC campaign would have any effect on the province’s position, the ministry did not respond.

Several federal housing subsidies end this year, including the contract with Grandview Housing Co-operative in Vancouver which houses 19 families, one-third of which will lose their rent-assistance come November.