Building a co-operative community: The conversion of Alexandra Park to Atkinson Housing Co-operative

TitleBuilding a co-operative community: The conversion of Alexandra Park to Atkinson Housing Co-operative
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsSousa JM
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy Ph.D.
Number of Pages309
UniversityUniversity of Toronto (Canada)
CityToronto, ON
Accession NumberAAT NR15729

The members of the Atkinson Housing Co-operative in Toronto, formerly known as the Alexandra Park housing project, worked with the co-operative sector and negotiated with the provincial and municipal government housing agency for over ten years to become Canadas first tenant-managed non-profit public-housing co-operative in April of 2003. The aim of this thesis is to document, analyze and interpret the Atkinson conversion process in order to develop a framework that explains the process under which the Atkinson community gained control by converting into a co-operative.The conversion was the response to persistent appeals by Alexandra Parks residents for improvements to maintenance response time and to security of the property. The conversion means that the residents will not only have the opportunity to develop policies that directly affect their lives but they will also be able to decide how to implement such policies. Even prior to the formation of the Atkinson Housing Co-operative, this community had been strong and cohesive; hence, the residents desire to gain greater control and form a co-operative was consistent with the communitys collective identity. Over the years, different events and activities brought the community together, while others created divisions.Eight events were identified as having contributed to the growth of this community, from inception to conversion. This thesis systematically interprets those events using seven elements: community resources, social capital, community leadership, community consciousness, role of government, cultural change, and resource mobilization. The objective of this thesis is to use those elements as the basis for a Framework for Community-Based Control that can be applied to other disempowered communities seeking greater control. The Framework for Community-Based Control contains four factors: community assets, capacity strategies, critical consciousness, and social action. The policy implications of the framework are explored in the context of recent changes to the social housing system within the province of Ontario.