January 29th, 2008

Buying in to a new idea
Housing co-operatives offer residents a resilient form of affordable housing. In a city where housing costs are soaring and the rental vacancy rate is at record lows, housing co-operatives are a welcome relief for many families of moderate income scrambling for affordable housing. While Victoria has 36 co-ops, the waiting lists are long and the barriers to starting new co-ops are many. Lara Allsopp was lucky to get a spot in the Lavender Ridge co-op in Saanich after waiting only a few months. “In our city, we make a lot of money and we can’t afford a house,” said Allsopp, who pays $804 per month for her three bedroom unit, complete with garage and yard. “I work full time, my husband works full time ... We just didn’t get into the market at the right time.” Jayna Forgie was also attracted to co-op living by the cheap rent. She and her family moved into Greenway Co-op over four years ago and she says she likes knowing her neighbours and having a say in how things are run. Like most co-ops in Victoria, Greenway caters mostly to families. “It’s nice for the kids to have children growing up around them,” said Forgie, who joins her neighbours in organizing events like Halloween parties and Easter egg hunts.