Non-Profit Housing by and for the Residents
Co-op 101: What It Is and How It Works
Think of a co-op as a democracy: it’s run, managed, and controlled by the people who live there. When you move into a co-op, you’re not just another tenant, you’re a valued member of an intimate community. Together with your neighbours (the other members), you elect a Board of Directors (also members), set the housing costs, and manage the properties.
We work together to create a vibrant, democratic, safe, and caring community. But just because everyone contributes doesn’t mean you’ll be overwhelmed with responsibilities.
Most co-ops hire professionals to aid in managing and maintaining the day-to-day work of running a community. But it does mean you have a say and a stake in the community’s future. At their heart, co-ops put people first: creating engaged communities who are invested in each other’s wellbeing.
Low Income Housing
vs. Co-operative Housing
Co-operative housing is often confused with low-income housing. While some members do receive subsidies based on their income, the combined effort and working together as a collective group, a community, ensures that housing costs stay below market value.
For example, we shovel our own snow, mow our own grass, inspect our own homes, and work as a group during spring and fall clean up.
Every member contributes to the community in some way rather than hiring tradespeople for everything that needs to be done.
Members work together on committees, fostering friendship and camaraderie (which rarely happens in a typical rental market).
Private Rental Housing vs. Housing Co-operative
Co-ops are substantially different from typical, private rentals – with the primary difference being that co-ops are non-profits.
Self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity are the values that guide and define co-operatives. In the tradition of co-operative housing, the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others both guide and inform how members engage, participate, and interact with the community.
Our operational guidelines are defined by seven co-operative principles:
Voluntary and Open Membership
No one is forced to belong to a co-op – membership is voluntary and open to all people (without discrimination) willing and able to accept the responsibilities of membership.
Autonomy and Independence
Non-profit organizations controlled by their members, co-operatives are autonomous entities. Any decisions to enter into agreements or contracts with other entities (even governments), still ensure democratic control and autonomy.
Democratic Member Control
Co-operatives are democratic organizations – the members control and run them,
actively participating in setting policies and making decisions. Those serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. All co-operatives are organized in a democratic manner.
Education, Training, and Information
Education and training are provided to members, elected representatives, and contracted personnel to ensure effective contributions to the co-op’s development.
Member Economic Participation
Members contribute, participate, and democratically control the co-operative and its capital (revenue and expenses). Members may receive limited compensation on capital subscribed as a condition of membership and they allocate funds for development, reserve funds, and approved activities.
Co-operation Among Co-operatives
Community, collaboration, and cooperation are central to the effectiveness of a co-op. Working together, through local, national, regional, and international structures, we serve our members and the movement.