Members purchase shares amounting to a small percentage of the value of the unit they will occupy. This is called a Share Purchase and is refundable should they leave the co-op. Only members may be shareholders. Each member has one vote in the affairs of the co-op, regardless of the value of their shares. For example, if you choose a 2-bedroom unit, your share purchase will be less than that of a 4-bedroom unit, but your vote will carry the same weight.
Shareholders elect a Board of Directors from the membership. The Board assumes responsibility for conducting the affairs of the co-op under the direction of the membership. However, the Board may, in turn, hire professionals when it is deemed necessary. These professionals would work under the policy direction of the Board of Directors.
Members pay monthly assessments (housing charges), which cover the payment of principal and interest, taxes, land purchase, maintenance, water, and other necessary expenses. The co-op is non-profit.
Members take an active part in managing and long-term planning for the co-op. Sometimes the services and advice of professionals is required, but the final decisions on all matters rest with the membership, because a co-op is a self-directing autonomous legal association.
Members do not individually own the units they occupy, because ownership in a continuing housing co-operative is collective, and rests with the entire membership; however, they do have the “right to residency”. Only willful and serious breaches of their lease or the co-op rules, which are voted on by the membership at a general meeting, are cause for membership to be revoked.
There are four important differences between renting and co-operative ownership:
Most non-profit housing co-ops currently receive money from the government (federal and/or provincial) to help the co-op subsidize a certain number of housing units. The housing charge for these units is adjusted to the income of the household. If a household qualifies for a subsidy, their housing charge is usually set at roughly 30-35% of the household’s income. Not all co-ops currently have subsidy available, and subsidy is not a certainty going forward.
Marigold Housing Co-op differs from these programs, in that our members pay housing charges directly related to their income, and are therefore not reliant on any form of government to offer affordable housing to our members.
If you would like to learn more about other types of subsidized housing, click here to learn more about subsidized units in Victoria through BC Housing – BC Housing handles subsidized housing applications from a number of different sources, including CRD Housing and some housing co-ops.