What is a co-op?

From the outside, a housing co-op looks like any other townhouse development. But, a housing co-op is different - here's how:

Owned By Members

People who live in a housing co-op are members. The co-op owns the whole property, and provides a housing unit to each member household. A household can consist of one or more adults - with or without children. Members do NOT own their units.

Managed by Members

All members have an equal say in how major decisions are made - "one member, one vote." Members come together at meetings to elect a Board of Directors, to approve the annual budget and approve by-laws. Each director is a member and lives in the co-op. Other members work on committees or they perform various tasks to help with the work involved in running the co-op. A co-op also employs staff in the co-op's office who look after the day-to-day business of the co-op.

Involvement by Members

The key difference between co-ops and other kinds of non-profit housing is that co-op members are actively involved in running their housing community. Each co-op member must volunteer time to serve on the Board or on a committee, or volunteer for some other co-op task. Members do not need special skills to get involved. They learn from one another and in special training sessions designed for co-op members. Members get to know each other through their working together in the co-op. This involvement creates a sense of community and a safe place for children and adults.

Who Can Live in a Housing Co-op?

Anyone can apply to live in a housing co-op. People of all backgrounds and cultures - young and old, married or single, with or without children - live in co-ops. Co-ops are also home to people with different kinds of disabilities and who have special needs. There is no minimum or maximum income level. Co-ops select their own members from those applicants who will be willing to share the responsibility of running the co-op once they become members. A willingness to live in a diverse community is important in order to be a co-op member.

How Much does it Cost?

(Water charges included; hydro, gas, water heater rental, cable TV and telephone charges not included)

Each member household pays a monthly housing charge (like rent) to cover the costs of operating the co-op. Some households pay the market housing charge, and others pay an assisted housing charge that is based on income. The market housing charge is usually about the same as the rent in a similar private rental unit in the area. An assisted housing charge is about 30 percent of the gross monthly household income.

Members enjoy the same kind of unit and all the benefits of membership regardless of whether they pay the market charge or an assisted charge.