Frequently Asked Questions

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 waitlist?

The Alexander Street Co-op (ASC), like most other co-ops, has a long waitlist. We cannot provide an estimate, but you should be prepared to wait for ~1-2 years. All applications over 2 years old are removed from the waitlist. If you are still interested after 2 years 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.