letter to the editor306

Co-operation works better than resistance Re “Housing co-op worries are a red herring: Kenyon” (The News, August 18): This article…

Co-operation works

better than resistance

Re “Housing co-op worries are a red herring: Kenyon” (The News, August 18):

This article raises a number of issues of importance to the members of the Whitehorse Housing Co-operative and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada, of which Whitehorse Housing Co-operative has long been a member.

CHF Canada was pleased to hear from Minister Jim Kenyon that the Yukon Housing Corporation has not yet made a decision on the future of the co-operative.

We thank him for clarifying the information provided in July by YHC representatives.

We also welcome his affirmative statement about the usefulness of co-operative housing.

But we are concerned that Kenyon may not understand that the members have both a right and a duty to work to preserve their co-operative’s future.

A decision to dissolve the co-operative also means that the members could lose their homes – a very human and understandable apprehension.

Certain other comments offered by Kenyon require correction.

The co-operative does not contain any plush apartments, but consists entirely of modest detached houses – affordable accommodation similar in size and design to Yukon Housing’s units.

Residents living in the co-operative’s subsidized units would also quality for subsidized accommodation run by the Yukon Housing Corporation.

In fact, throughout the receivership, final decisions on who lives in the co-operative’s subsidized units have been made by Yukon Housing. Moreover, the same leases and rent assessment procedures have been employed.

Tenant selection and rent assessment similarities aside, there are substantial differences between co-operative housing and YHC social housing.

These differences begin with philosophy.

Residency in a co-operative housing project is more akin to home-ownership than rental.

It requires participants who believe in the principles of a co-operative endeavour – people who are willing to commit volunteer time and effort to translate these principles into practical application.

Once governance of the co-operative is returned to its members, the residents will again monitor their own finances, approve capital expenditures, keep the units in good repair, approve new members, elect officers and carry out a wide range of duties no social housing tenant would be expected to undertake.

CHF Canada and the members of the Whitehorse Housing Co-operative have created a detailed workout plan to return the co-operative to member governance.

This plan includes paid management, ongoing support from CHF Canada, and a loan to repay debt and complete capital repairs to the co-operative’s units.

The loan is offered through the Federal Co-operative Housing Stabilization Fund, a federal agency created to assist co-operatives that are experiencing financial difficulty.

The return of governance to co-operative members is unanimously supported by its residents, as well as CHF Canada, the Federal Co-operative Housing Stabilization Fund, the Yukon’s member of parliament, and the leaders of two of three Yukon political parties.

The members of the Whitehorse Housing Co-operative have, from the outset, sought Yukon Housing’s advice and active involvement.

With assistance rather than resistance, we are certain the project will be well on its way to revitalization and long-term success.

Bob Nardi, co-operative services consultant,

Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada