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Co op wants loan while corporation wants social housing

A Whitehorse housing co-operative in receivership is hoping a promised loan will allow it to return to solvency but is being thwarted by a recent…

A Whitehorse housing co-operative in receivership is hoping a promised loan will allow it to return to solvency but is being thwarted by a recent Yukon Housing Corporation decision.

The corporation took over the Whitehorse Housing Co-Operative, located in Granger, in November 2003, following management and accounting problems.

For the co-op to receive a loan the corporation must now agree to co-sign, said Christiane Cramp, a resident at the co-op, in an interview Monday.

“Yukon Housing Corporation won’t allow us to have that loan,” said Cramp.

“They are not willing to co-sign.”

The Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada has guaranteed to loan the Whitehorse co-op enough money to make needed repairs, safety upgrades and to pay off about $132,000 in outstanding debt, said Cramp.

But Yukon Housing recently decided to absorb the 12 units into the territory’s social housing inventory rather than allow the co-op to return to managing its own affairs through a loan.

That is frustrating many involved.

“We remain very disappointed with the process undertaken by the Yukon Housing Corporation,” said Karla Skoutajan, the federation’s director of sector development, in a release.

“It has always been our intention to work towards moving the co-operative out of receivership and back to member governance,” she said.

“It now appears that the corporation has made a decision about the future of the co-operative without further discussions with the co-operative’s members,” added Skoutajan.

The co-op’s debt is the result of mismanagement by a former member who has now left, said Cramp.

During the debacle, rents were scattered all over the board and special treatment was given for friends, she said.

“It ended up that one person started running everything, and that person didn’t allow monthly meetings and wouldn’t tell people what was going on with the finances,” said Cramp.

The person unilaterally fired the co-op’s manager and accountant, she added.

When the fiasco came to a head in 2003, the co-op was financially ruined and taken over by Yukon Housing Corporation.

The corporation’s intention to absorb the units into social housing doesn’t sit right with residents, said Cramp.

“The co-operative is not social housing. We as a group decide on the rules that are best for the co-op members, not a standard that is set by institutions,” said Cramp.

Liberal leader Arthur Mitchell is backing the co-op’s call for a rethink of the corporation’s decision.

“These are affordable housing units that could disappear; some of the people there could not qualify for social housing,” said Mitchell, in an interview Monday.

“This has been dragging on for two-and-a-half years. They want some certainty,” he said.

All those involved with the former problems no longer live at the co-op, said Cramp.

And the group wants to hire an outside manager and accountant who will profit only from their wages to ensure problems don’t happen again, she added.

“We got under bad management, then housing took us over,” she said.

“It can be done again, we want to continue without their governance.”

The minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, Jim Kenyon, was not available for comment before press time.