Co-ops come in many different shapes and sizes, ranging from collections of townhouses and small buildings with 4-12 units to large apartment-style buildings with hundreds of units.

What sets co-ops apart from private rental housing is that they are democratic communities where the residents make decisions on how the co-op operates.

Members, the board and staff each have responsibilities to the co-op, as shown in the figure below.

There are two main types of housing co-ops: non-profit and for-profit. Many provinces require that housing co-ops operate on a non-profit basis. If the co-op is non-profit, members cannot sell their shares in the co-op. In for-profit housing co-operatives, members own a share of the co-op, but not the individual unit they live in.

Housing co-ops offer several advantages to members:

  • Affordability

    Housing co-ops are member-owned and controlled organizations. The monthly housing charges are set by the members to cover the costs of running the co-op.

  • Governance

    Governance is about the overall direction of the co-op and is the job of directors and members of the co-op. Co-ops are democratically run and each member has a vote. Members elect the board of directors, approve the annual budget and set policy.

  • Security of Tenure

    A member’s right to live in the co-op is protected. A member can live in a co-op for as long as he or she wishes as long as he or she follows the rules (bylaws) of the co-op and pays his or her housing charge (rent) on time.

  • Community

    Housing co-ops can also be strong communities, where members actively participate in the business of the co-op. In addition to standard tasks, such as approving the annual budget, members often volunteer with maintenance tasks (e.g. lawn care) and are involved in other community-based projects such as producing a co-op newsletter and volunteering on the Social committee to help build community.

Housing co-operatives exist for their members’ common benefit. Like other co-operatives they promote individual responsibility, mutual help, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-ops try to embody the ethical values of honesty, openness and concern for others and for the wider society. Housing co-operatives pursue their aims and give expression to their values by acting on seven principles.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for geared-to-income housing, applicants and tenant/members must meet the following criteria:

  • At least one member of the home is 16 years of age or older.
  • The household is able to take care of themselves (with or without the help of a support service agency).
  • All household members are legal residents of Canada. This includes Canadian citizenship, landed immigrant or Permanent resident status or Refugee claimants. People who are under an enforceable deportation, departure or exclusion order are not eligible.
  • No member of the household owes money to another social housing provider anywhere in the province.
  • No member of the household has been convicted within the last 24 months of an offence under section 55 of the Housing Services Act or section 85 of the social Housing Reform Act (regarding knowingly obtaining or aiding or abetting a member of a household to obtain or receive rent-geared-to-income assistance for which the household is not eligible).
  • No member of the household has been convicted within the last 24 months of a crime under the Criminal Code (Canada) in relation to the receipt of rent-geared-to-income assistance.

If Halton Region or the housing provider determines that a household is eligible to receive income from one of the programs listed below, the household will be required to apply for and make reasonable efforts to receive income from one of these programs before receiving rent-geared-to-income assistance.

If an accessible unit (modified for wheelchair) is required, documentation must be provided. If a member of the household wishes to live in a housing community that has a supportive housing service, the applicant must provide information to confirm his/her eligibility for the support services provided at that location.

  • Basic financial assistance under the Ontario Works Program.
  • Support under the Divorce Act (Canada) Family Law Act or the Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Orders Act.
  • Employment insurance benefits.
  • Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) available to persons aged 65 and older.
  • Support and maintenance for sponsored immigrants under the Immigration Act (Canada).