“A place to live, for people who want to volunteer with their neighbors”
Membership in a Co-op offers a sense of community generally not found in regular apartment buildings. Since the Co-op is run by the Members, residents are able to actively participate in the decision-making. There is no landlord – we are it! We are all responsible for the way things operate.
The structure of the Co-op consists of a Board of Directors, various Committees, and the General Membership. The Board (elected annually) meets monthly to set the goals and objectives of the Co-op, as well as to make decisions based on policies approved by the General Membership. The Board also liaises with the various Committees.
These include the Membership, Finance, and Maintenance Committees, -just to name a few. Committees carry out the day-to-day, as well as the long-range tasks that enable the Co-op to operate. For example, the Membership Committee interviews prospective applicants, while the Maintenance Committee oversees general grounds, planter boxes, and lawn maintenance. Individual Members are expected to attend General Meetings, as well as regularly participate on the Committee of their choice. Additionally, Members are legally responsible for adhering to the terms of the Occupancy and the Participation Agreements signed before move-in.
On January 17, 1984, Vancouver City Council voted to lease city-owned land at 638 Alexander Street (near Oppenheimer Park) for 60 years to the DERA HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE.
The building started taking in occupants in February 1985. When the 60-year lease expires in 2044, the land lease will be renegotiated for another term.
What is a Housing Co-op?
A Housing Co-op is a business and a community jointly owned by the people who live here. Participation is required.
What does it mean when a Co-op listing reads “participation required”?
“Participation required” means that when you become a Member of the Co-op you will be expected to get involved in running the Co-op. Each member is asked to volunteer 4 hours/month. This could mean joining a Committee such as the Finance or Membership Committee, getting involved in the upkeep of the building, or offering your time to organize Co-op events or activities.
Who lives in a Co-op?
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 the full Occupancy Charge. This is often called a “market” Occupancy Charge. Other Members with lower incomes pay less. This is called a subsidized Occupancy Charge. Every Non-profit Co-op has some members which are subsidized.
What is subsidy?
Every Non-profit housing Co-op receives money from the government (Federal or Provincial) to help house some low-income Members. The Occupancy 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 Occupancy Charge. The subsidy makes up the difference between what the Member pays and the Co-op’s normal Occupancy Charge. The amount of subsidy is limited. When a Co-op’s Operating Agreement with government ends, the subsidy will also end. Co-ops must plan for that imminent future. CHF BC has tools and resources to help Co-ops prepare for the future as part of its 2020 Vision program.
Are Co-ops owned by the government?
No. Co-ops are owned by their shareholders, who are the Members of the Co-op.
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. 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, 2 months’ notice is required prior to moving out. Shares also stand as the Co-op’s working capital.
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.
How do I apply for Co-op housing at the Alexander Street Co-op (ASC)?
When we are accepting applications, you can fill out the form linked to the bottom of our application page. Periodically, we close the form (when there are too many people on our waitlist).
What information is required when submitting an application?
In addition to the basic information requested in the application, a Government issued ID, and ASC also requires you to submit financial information.
Do you allow pets?
Yes – however, all dogs must be approved by the Board prior to move in. We currently have a maximum capacity of 15 dogs for the building.
Is parking available?
Currently, all the Co-op parking spots are currently taken. However, you can add your name to the waitlist if you like. Ample free street parking is available.
How long is the ASC waitlist?
ASC, like most other Co-ops, has a long waitlist. We cannot provide an estimate, but you should be prepared to wait for 1 or 2 years. All applications over 12 months old are removed from the waitlist. After one year, if you are still interested in ASC, you must re-apply.
How often does the Occupancy Charge increase?
Occupancy Charge increases are set by CMHC yearly until 2020 and Alexander Street Co-op agrees to charge market rates based on a loan agreement. We strive to keep CMHC’s yearly rent increase as small as possible.
We are currently accepting external applications.
At the Alexander Street Housing Co-op, we are a community of volunteers. We have very limited office staff support so you might not get a response right away. We accept Membership applications and inquiries via email and by physical mail (638 Alexander St. Vancouver BC V6H 3X9).
Unfortunately, we do not have any subsidy dollars available at this time. We are not able to accept any new Members who would require subsidies.
If you qualify for Membership, the Membership Committee will contact you for an interview. At your interview, you will learn more about the expectations and responsibilities of Membership. Here you will also learn more about our Co-op and be able to ask any questions that you may have.
Times for interviews are based on when your application is received*. This way members have plenty of notice and can attend if they like and the applicants know what day they need to keep open if selected for an interview.
Jan-Mar, 2nd Saturday in April 9am-12pm
Apr-Jun, 2nd Wednesday in July 6pm-9pm
Jul-Sept, 2nd Saturday in October 9am-12pm
Oct-Dec, 2nd Wednesday in January 6pm-9pm
For example, if your application was received on July 17th you should book off the 2nd Saturday in October in case you are called for an interview
*In some situations, we might need to hold interviews earlier to fill a unit.
After your interview, you will be notified if your Membership application has been approved. If approved, your application will be placed on our wait list.
No phone calls, please. Please do not call and ask what is your position on our wait list or when you can expect a unit. Some applicants may wait for years before they are offered a unit – others may only wait a few months. Unit availability depends on our vacancy rate and how many approved applicants are on the wait list.
When a unit becomes available we start at the top of the approved wait list and in a progressive manner, continue down the list until a suitable applicant is available. Often, when a unit becomes available, many applicants have already found other housing. Therefore your position on the waitlist can move ahead quickly. While you are on the waiting list, please remember to keep your application up-to-date. Let us know of any changes, be it address, phone number, or income changes. Please submit any changes by email.
Alexander Street Co-op consists of:
- housing charge: $825
- share purchase: $1,000
- 38 units
- 4 wheelchair accessible units
- 1 Bedroom:
- housing charge: $918
- share purchase: $1,300
- 13 terrace units
- 2 bedroom:
- housing charge: $1,011
- share purchase: $1,500
- 5 terrace units
- 1 wheelchair accessible unit
Share Purchases are a one-time fee upon accepting membership into the Co-op and obtaining a unit. If you choose to leave the Co-op, provide the correct amount of notice, and leave your unit in good repair for the next Member your full Share Purchase will be returned to you.
Updated and current as of October 26th, 2020
We’re located at 638 Alexander St. in Vancouver, BC.
As our office is run by volunteers with varying schedules, the best way to get in touch with us is through this contact form below. You should have a response in 1-2 weeks.