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Raising Cash for Leaky Co-ops
BY MERRILEE ROBSON - Imagine this. You come home every night to a home that reeks of mould and mildew. There's water pouring in through your bedroom closet and you can't stop it. You're afraid to change a light bulb because your light fixtures fill up with water. Worse, your health - and the health of your children - suffers because your home is like this.
Well that's exactly the kind of situation facing thousands of people living in leaky housing co-ops in BC. Many have heard of the problems of leaky condos. The situation for B.C.'s non-profit housing co-ops is much worse. Not only do they need to borrow money to fix their buildings, but also they need the approval of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to do it. In some cases, that approval has taken years. And it has come with unacceptable strings attached. Co-ops are being told they can't accept any more low-income households into membership, in order to redirect funds to pay off the repair loan.
Fortunately, B.C. housing co-ops suffering from premature building envelope failure (leaky co-ops) are not alone. They have help from both the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada and the Co-operative Housing Federation of B.C. Both federations are contributing funds for a campaign to fix leaky co-ops. And delegates to CHF Canada's annual general meeting on June 22 unanimously approved a resolution in support of B.C.'s leaky housing.
"I'm extremely pleased with the support that members across Canada have shown for our efforts to get leaky co-ops fixed," said Gary Panagioditis, president of CHF BC.
You couldn't miss the buttons and T-shirts from CHF BC's leaky co-op committee at CHF Canada's AGM in Hamilton. Many members from across Canada were sporting the logo of housing co-ops slowly sinking in water.
CHF Canada immediately faxed another letter to John Manley, Minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, calling for immediate, fair and lasting help for leaky co-ops. "Delegates particularly want to make sure that these co-ops can continue to house the same number of low-income households," the letter said. "Our members firmly believe that these co-ops should not be asked to assume unaffordable levels of debt and that their operating autonomy should not be compromised."
The Columbia Journal
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