Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of Frequently Asked Questions for CHF BC. Do you have a question about co-op housing that you think should be included in this list? Send your question to fjackson@chf.bc.ca. If you'd like a more specific answer, please contact us.
General Questions
What is co-op housing?

Non-profit housing co-ops are a form of shared ownership which provides homes to its members who purchase a share and pay a monthly housing charge. The co-operative is established under the Co-op Act. Find out more about life in a housing co-op.

How long will I have to wait to get into a co-op?

After applying, it takes three months to three years to get into most co-ops. Some co-ops are not accepting applications. Those applying for subsidy have a longer wait than those paying the market housing charge.

Who lives in co-ops?

Non-profit housing co-ops are mixed communities. Members of housing co-ops come from a variety of backgrounds and have a wide range of incomes. Some members pay a full housing charge. This is often called a "market" housing charge. Other members with lower incomes pay less. This is called a subsidized housing charge. Some units in most every non-profit co-op are subsidized.

What is subsidy?

Most non-profit housing co-ops receive money from the government (federal or provincial) to help house some low-income members. The housing charge for these units is adjusted to the household’s income. This is often referred to as "rent-geared-to-income" or "RGI" or a subsidized housing charge. The subsidy makes up the difference between what the member pays and the co-op’s normal housing charge. The amount of subsidy is limited. When a co-op’s operating agreement with government ends, the subsidy will also end. Co-ops have to start planning for that future.

Is there a maximum income ceiling to qualify for a co-op?

If you go to our Co-op Programs info page, you will see that non-profit housing co-ops are funded by different government programs, depending on when they were first developed. The co-ops that have income ceilings are funded under one of the following programs:

  • Section 61
  • Homes BC
  • Six BC co-ops funded under the Federation Co-operative Housing Program (ILM) have income ceilings. These co-ops were developed in the last year of the ILM program, around '92-'93

The dollar amount of the income ceiling varies. Other co-ops, as far as we know, do not have income ceilings.

What is a share purchase?

A share purchase is the share you buy to become a member of a co-op. Usually, one member per unit in a co-op buys a share in the co-op as they are accepted for membership. Each share gives a member a vote in general meetings. Shares range from $1,000 to $7,000 (a typical share purchase is around $2,000).

A share is a little bit like a damage deposit in that you get the money back when you leave the co-op (unless the unit has been damaged in which case the share is used to cover repair costs). However, co-ops do not return share purchases with interest.

Please note that in most co-ops, two months' notice is required prior to moving out. Shares also stand as the co-op's working capital.

CHF BC administers two programs to help people in special need to afford the initial share purchase once they've been accepted to join a housing co-op: the Disability Trust and the Domestic Violence Relief Fund.

What is a monthly housing charge?

A monthly housing charge is like rent. It’s what the members pay each month to live in the co-op. Click here for an explanation of subsidy.

How do I apply to live in a housing co-op

Get full information on how to apply to a housing co-op.

Does CHF BC accept or screen applicants for housing co-ops?

No. Admission to a housing co-op is determined by each co-op. CHF BC does not play a role in the membership process of co-ops. CHF BC provides a directory of co-ops as a public information service.

Does CHF BC provide emergency housing?

No. CHF BC's mandate is to provide services to its member co-ops.

People looking for emergency housing can contact the following organizations:

BC Housing 604-433-2218 or 1-800-257-7756

Affordable Housing 

Does CHF BC give out a complete list of BC co-ops or co-op phone numbers?

CHF BC is a membership organization and acts on its' members' decisions. We provide only the address and sometimes the phone number of member co-ops listed in our co-op directory.

Are co-ops low income housing?

No, co-ops are mixed income communities for people of all income levels. Generally, co-ops house people of low and moderate incomes