I live in a housing co-operative. Back in the mid-1980s our co-op entered an operating agreement with the federal government that provided partial funding to subsidize the rent for low-income households. To this day, we receive some money that helps offset the rent for low-income people living in our co-op. It’s not a lot of money: last year we received about $38,000 and this year we’ll receive about $37,000.
This money is solely to support low-income households. If your income is above a certain threshold (for a two-bedroom household, this is about $45,000) then you can’t even apply for assistance. Some of my neighbours rely on this help, as they’re on fixed incomes like disability or retirement. They literally can’t get more money to pay for rent, so this housing assistance is sorely needed.
In 2019 our operating agreement with the federal government comes to an end. The Conservatives have said that when these agreements are over, they’re over. They won’t be renewed. The federal subsidy will come to an end, and our co-op will be faced with telling our neighbours their rents will be raised to market rates. Our fixed-income neighbours will have to pay 60% of their income on housing, which they can’t afford, and they’ll be forced to move from their homes.
This is playing out across the country. We’re one housing co-op. There are over 250 in British Columbia with more than 14,500 households. Across Canada there are more than 2,200 co-ops with over 90,000 households. The vast majority of these co-ops will see their federal funding come to an end over the next decade, meaning thousands of people will be faced with the choice between large rent hikes or homelessness.
The federal election is key for fixing this. Of the four major parties, only the Conservatives offer no help for low-income families. The NDP have pledged to renew the operating agreements. The Liberals have pledged to renew the operating agreements. The Greens have pleged to re-establish funding for housing co-operatives.
The Conservatives would let the operating agreements lapse, leaving low-income households to lose their homes.
So remember, when you mark an X next to your Conservative candidate, remember the thousands of people who will have their rents go up by 30-50%. Remember the thousands of people across the country who will have to choose between a roof over their heads or food on the table. Remember the thousands of people who will be forced into hidden homelessness or onto the streets.
When you vote Conservative, remember my neighbours.