Co-op housing about to lose federal subsidies

Ronny Yaron —

Today, hundreds of nonprofit housing co-operatives along with many hundreds of other nonprofit housing providers face a looming crisis as they approach the end of their operating agreements (mortgages) any time from this year to 15 years from now.

That’s when funding for housing subsidies, administered through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) for the federal government, is scheduled to end.

CMHC’s housing agreements provide rent-geared-to-income assistance (based on means testing) to half a million people in Canada, including seniors and low-income people with special needs in hundreds of mixed-income social housing developments across this country.

Ward 28, which includes St. Lawrence Neighbourhood,

Local activist Ronny Yaron is a member of Woodsworth Housing Co-op and their delegate to the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association (SLNA).

Local activist Ronny Yaron is a member of Woodsworth Housing Co-op and their delegate to the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association (SLNA).

has the largest number of housing co-ops in Canada and residents of these and other nonprofit buildings who are currently receiving subsidies face the prospect of losing their affordable homes, most by 2020. Many residents have lived in their co-op homes for years, raised their families there and may have to join the growing population on waiting lists for public housing that isn’t under threat of losing subsidies at this time.

While the federal government did allocate some $2 billion through Canada’s Economic Action Plan for renovations and energy-efficient retrofits to all kinds of affordable housing and $400 million over two years to create new rental housing for low-income seniors, it could be responsible for the imminent loss of federal subsidy assistance to low-income seniors and families and people with disabilities in social housing across Canada.

A few co-ops that have reached the end of their operating agreements have developed strategies to maintain subsidies by rejigging their housing charges and negotiating loans with credit unions. Though they have paid off their mortgages, they have other major expenses of infrastructure, such as replacing roofs and kitchens. Having built up reserve funds can be crucial in these cases.

This crisis in affordable social housing could be avoided if we elect a supportive government. This is why this federal election is critical to tens of thousands of co-op and other nonprofit housing residents. The NDP, Liberal and Green parties have all committed to renewing expiring subsidies for low-income households, as well as investing in new affordable housing. Each of us can do our part by letting all candidates in our ridings know how important affordable housing is and asking them to support a federal subsidy program.