Housing Co-operatives (or Co-ops)
A housing co-operative is a not-for-profit arrangement which has some advantages over renting:
There are several different types of housing co-operatives. One basic distinction is the type of ownership structure:
- The people who live in the co-operative have a say in how it is run, by being able to vote on its policies or vote for the people (such as a board of directors) who make its policies.
- The cost is usually less than market rent, since there is no landlord taking profit from the housing.
All of the housing co-operatives in New Brunswick that we are aware of are of type 3. This is sometimes called a continuing non-equity co-operative. Living in this type of co-op is similar to renting in many ways, except you have a vote in how the co-op is run, and the rent is usually less than the market rate for an equivalent unit. You are also likely to know your neighbours a bit better and interact with them a bit more than you would in a landlord-run establishment.
- People living in the co-operative may own their individual units.
- People living in the co-operative may own shares in the overall project (eg., the whole building).
- The co-operative organization may own the building or buildings and rent units to the people living there.
- The housing co-operative may be a community of people who reject the idea of property ownership, while at the same time organizing to meet their housing needs collectively. In recent decades this has occurred, for example, in squats in Europe and New York City, USA.
Housing Alternatives Inc., a company that provides services to several housing co-operatives in the in the Saint John area, has a helpful FAQ sheet on housing co-operatives in New Brunswick.
The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada), to which many of the Co-ops in New Brunswick belong, also has a description of what a housing co-op is. Note that their description, as well as that from Housing Alternatives Inc., applies only to continuing non-equity co-operatives, which is the type they are involved in.
We have a list of housing co-operatives in New Brunswick.