Category Archives: Affordable Housing

CO-OP EVICTION LAW REFORM – A STAFF PERSPECTIVE

NOTES FOR A MORE COHERENT PRESENTATION
EVICTION LAW REFORM – STAFF PERSPECTIVE
FRIDAY, JULY 17TH
STANLEY KNOWLES HOUSING CO-OPERATIVE

For those who don?t know me, I am the co-ordinator of 43rd Housing Co-op and have been for 17 years. Celia Chandler will be doing the bulk of the presentation, helping us to learn more about the practicalities of eviction under the new system. I’ll be talking briefly about what is has been like from a staff perspective to deal with the transition.

I’ve been working in the sector for almost 20 years, having worked at three co-ops over the years. I did not get involved to take away housing from people, but to help develop and provide long term affordable housing. Taking away housing, which is what we do when we evict someone, is hard to do and something I find emotionally draining.

43rd Co-op is an acquisition rehab co-op. There are still a few tenant households, people that were given the choice of co-op membership or remaining tenants when the co-op was formed 20 years ago. Effectively we have been using the new eviction model the entire time as the tenant eviction process is the model for the the new process. Historically the tenant process involved three steps—an initial notice, filing a 2nd notice with the tribunal, and going to the tribunal—the later including strongly encouraged on site mediation to reach a settlement prior to a hearing. The co-op process involved three or more steps—the initial notice to appear, the board meeting, serving a notice of the board decision, a possible member appeal, filing for a court hearing and a court hearing. In either case, if the judgement went in favour of the co-op, the sherriff’s office would be scheduled for a formal eviction. The tenant process took approximately 2 months; the co-op options 4 to six months. For arrears matters involving tenants I was able to do all the work. For tenant behavioural evictions and all co-op matters co-op lawyers would do the bulk of the work. With tenant evictions I was the focus of any frustration or anger from the tenant; with co-op member evictions the board was the focus of much of the dissatisfaction but I was still the audience for it. Members realise that different boards have different priorities, seen in offers to settle or the offering of reasonable repayments when the board was seen as more hard line. Getting memorandums of settlement approved by some boards was also problematic.

After co-op eviction law reform the process for co-op eviction has come close to matching the tenant process—-a notice to appear, a decision by the board, a possible member appeal, filing of notice with the tribunal, with a two part tribunal hearing process. The time period seems to be two to three months. The legal costs are lower than going to court. It feels that boards are now more likely to want to proceed to eviction than in the past—perhaps due to lower costs and a clearer process or perhaps hard times are leading to higher arrears and causing more stress in households which leads to more behavioural concerns. Our by-laws haven?t all been brought up to date, which can be problematic if members expect a particular process or to forms to be a certain way based on their familiarity with the old model by-law. It does seem that boards are accepting mediation around arrears more readily with the tribunal system, which is a real plus.

In regards to dealing with member arrears, I have found the new process easier to understand and use, thanks primarily to good sector lawyers who have provided clear guidelines. The process is straight forward and getting to enforceable agreements is quicker, helping to both address arrears and to help avoid evictions. I am still unclear about behavioural evictions—there are different forms and options for non-arrears evictions and there are still some matters that need to be dealt with through the court process. It would be good if the behavioural by-laws contained little more than ?Do not offend others. Do not be easily offended.? 43rd has started the behavioural eviction process but not gone to the tribunal or to court as other resolutions were implemented. Having a new process for eviction may be giving co-ops motivation to reconsider many by-laws addressing behaviour that have been passed but never court tested. Tribunal decisions could help guide such discussions.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE 2012 ONPHA CONFERENCE

The 2012 ONPHA conference is now a moment in history.  I feel tired and drained.   I don’t have the bounce of hope that I leave a co-op gathering with, but I do have a few more skills to draw upon and some confidence that there are people in the world trying to build a better world and a better movement even if the formal structure they work in is more of a civil servant network than an alliance of affordable housing visionaries.

The oddest memory is going into a workshop and having the workshop leader state that she remembered me from being arrested together at the Queen’s Park Plant-in.    TASC and ANVA types seem to have found homes in many movements, but co-operatives and affordable housing have attracted the most.

ONPHA does have an idealistic streak, but it is hard to find within the corporate language and imagery.    ONPHA members house the hardest to house, run shelters, offer RGI housing and afford able market housing in rural areas and provide municipally run housing in the largest cities of Ontario.    In our conservative climate it isn’t much of a surprise when the leadership tries to talk the language of corporate insiders.    Yet, while community orientated activists have adopted the language of the powers-that-be, there was a change in the language of the dominant economic culture.   Corporate leaders are talking about community, environmental sustainability and social investing.   Some reflection brought me to the point of considering that, just like corporations talking about environmental sustainability or their employees are valued stakeholders hasn’t resulted in changes in corporate practices, ONPHA using the language of business may not result in changes in their practices.   With a dominant portion of its membership and leadership from municipal non-profits, it may be immune from having to make real change.

I heard ONPHA described as a mature organisation.  This is used to explain why the actual business portion of the gathering is scheduled for one and a half hours on a Sunday morning during which the annual report, the audit, the election and any resolutions submitted by the board or membership is dealt with.   Members don’t take advantage of a provincial meeting to raise issues they felt urgent for the movement or of local importance they wanted province wide feedback on; rather, except for a few questions of the annual report and a couple of routine questions of the audit, the AGM was a quiet affair.  In my immature way,  I’d like to the AGM to have more motions from members and harder questions posed to the leadership.   To me, a quiet AGM indicates an alienated membership.

ONPHA continues to offer good resources and excellent workshops, but it operates a level very remote from those that live in the homes ONPHA members offer or the dreamers who came together to develop community housing in the first place.

ANOTHER DAY AT THE 2012 ONPHA CONFERENCE

While I may live in Toronto I rarely have an opportunity to explore the co-op and non-profit housing that is scattered across this city. This morning I went on a tour of co-op and non-profit housing in NW Toronto on or near Weston Road. We only stopped at 3 places, but were shown 23 projects that ranged from supportive housing to municipal non-profits to non-profit co-operatives to affordable home ownership sites—approximately 4,000 units in total . It was good to see so many places where people can live with dignity and security in an overlooked area of Toronto. While it is discouraging to see no new affordable non-profit or co-operative homes being build, there is some indication (through various affordable home ownership models) that there is at least new housing coming available for the employed working class. Truly marginalized people hoping for a new home will continue to have a long

While the tour was organised through ONPHA, and therefore the focus was on non-profit housing, four different co-ops were pointed out. We stopped for a while at Beach Hall Housing Co-op, a senior’s non-profit co-op; stopped at the site of a project of Homebuyers Development Co-operative Corporation, a builders’ co-op; had Chord Housing Co-op pointed out to us, an interesting co-op that continues to provide housing for people from diverse backgrounds, including a substantive proportion of families with children facing developmental and/or physical challengers; and stopped at a project of Options for Homes, which supports non-profit builders’ co-ops.

Participants seemed genuinely interested in the different approaching to developing and sustaining affordable housing. Those from various government agencies present did indicate that support for affordable home ownership is their
Priority. The fact that most of the western countries facing major financial challenges have affordable home ownership as a key component of their national housing strategy may be a co-incidence, or perhaps could serve as a warning that depending on a for profit private sector model to deliver essential services is unsustainable in the long term.

++++++++++

I was surprised that the vendors’ displays were taken down over lunch. I finally had free time and hoped to talk to some possible suppliers.

++++++++++

Where the workshop’s I attended yesterday (Death of A Tenant; When to Call Children’s Aid) were focused on meeting human needs, today’s addressed corporate needs—The Taxman Cometh; Refinancing the Sector.
I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement of most participants—-effective listening and intelligent questions of the presenters.

Chris Lawrence, the main presenter for The Taxman Cometh workshop, raised issues facing all non-profits as the Canada Revenue Agency tries to figure out the non-profit sector. CRA does not know the size of the sector or the number of non-profits, which can range from unincorporated local clubs to housing providers to groups like the CAA to corporate based non-profits. CRA’s motivation is primarily around tax fairness; it is unlikely that housing providers and similar organisations will end up paying taxes under any foreseeable changes. Co-op housing and non-profit housing providers have faced random audits, as have other non-profits. These resulted in information letters that raised concerns. These have stopped; audits and other interactions with CRA may be occurring but sector organisations aren’t aware of them.

It was suggested that CRA may have a draft paper within a year and any changes that will result will occur with normal government efficiency (discussions, lobbying, draft legislation, elections, etc.)—-5 years is likely to be the time frame to changing a section of the act in place since the late 19th century.

Refinancing the Sector was more of a reinforcement of information I already know than a source of new ideas. It was less well attended than I had expected—-perhaps we don’t need as much money as I sometimes think our sector needs.

One of the presenters, Steve Pomeroy, helped St. Clare’s get our first seed money under the long gone Homegrown Solutions programme. Just under 400 units ultimately came into being because CMHC was willing to support experiments in new affordable housing development.

Presenters were David McCarron from Ottawa Community Housing; Steve Pomery, a consultant, and Steve Rohacek from Infrastructure Ontario. Some good ideas were shared, from looking at non-rental revenue to strategies on communicating with existing lenders when refinancing is needed. Ideas were more on refinancing to meet existing capital needs but there were some suggestions on how to finance new construction such as selling existing real estate (housing; land) to finance the construction of new affordable housing units. Links to relevant websites, particularly Infrastructure Ontario, are helpful sources of information. Steve Pomery’ s presentation was especially helpful. The reminder/suggestion as the need for skilled consultants to help organisations to go through the funding process.

++++++++++

At the end of another day at ONPHA my basic feeling of the convention remains the same. I am an outsider, not part of the masses. I am not at home with pro-profit corporate language. I don’t feel comfortable walking down the halls with those that develop and implement the government policies that are barriers to developing new affordable housing or promote a more competitive, less co-operative and compassionate world. I am even a bit put off by overhearing groups of people in a public space making insulting comments about a member of their group who wasn’t present. It was rare to see strangers talk to each other. At CHF one can’t avoid running into people who never talked to each other before sharing ideas that arose
In a workshop or strategizing about resolutions coming before the meeting; here only a few stay behind to talk to workshop providers and there haven’t been excited conversations outside the workshop rooms.

I am suspicious of the role of elections at ONPHA. Our ballot for the ONPHA board arrived after the deadline for the mailed ballot to arrive. Included with the ballot, though, was a letter which reads in part “Mail-in ballots must be received at the ONPHA office by November 8th to be counted. Otherwise, members may vote in person at the AGM on Sunday, November 18th”. Our ballot arrived after the 8th so I intended to vote tomorrow. As I overheard two candidates today being congratulated for their victory, I am wondering what the purpose of voting tomorrow will serve.

Initial Thoughts on the 2012 ONPHA Conference

I am starting to write this while waiting for the ONPHA opening plenary to begin. Yesterday I attended a wonderful session on making board meetings better, facilitated by a woman who had spent significant time at Madonna House. My approach to chairing was reaffirmed in the session, but I came away from the workshop with ideas to make meetings more enjoyable.

 
I am unable to check my email because ONPHA hasn’t made arrangements with the Sheridan for this service. It was a surprise to go to a public gathering without access to internet/free wi-fi.

 
Going to a CHFC AGM it is, for me, a homecoming; going to the ONPHA conference is a different experience. Here I am on the fringes, not really a part of the organisation. I have been at several ONPHA conferences over the years but each time it feels that I am somewhat of a stranger. And the participants are less friendly. People seem to avoid eye contact with strangers, don’t respond to greetings unless it comes from people they know and move in cliques, more like a school ground than a meeting of people with shared visions and dreams. The friendly voices are those that know me from elsewhere, primarily the co-op world but also lawyers, accountants, credit union officials and those from my neighbourhood.

 
My feeling of being an outsider may be due to the nature of the organisation. ONPHA isn’t a reflection of a movement but is more of a sectoral interest group—primarily municipal non-profits and small and large private non-profits and a very small co-op presence. The participants have things in common, a commitment of service to others and a still lingering sense of the value of a non-profit and non-commercial approach to meeting human needs, but unlike co-op members they do not have a core sense of mutual service. In co-ops we work together to meet our needs as a part of meeting the needs of others. Co-operators both offer and accept efforts to meet common needs. I am a movement person, not someone comfortable with being a part of a group firmly linked to the institutions of our world.

 
I return to the ONPHA conferences, when they are in Toronto, primarily because of the workshops. ONPHA has the resources to offer a wider range of workshops than CHF can. There are practical services both CHF and ONPHA offer, from bulk buying to policy development, but ONPHA does provide a far wider variety of workshops.

++++++++++++++++++++++++

The opening plenary of ONPHA was inspiring but one way—-the information and ideas flow from those at the front of the room. There are no microphones or other indications that ONPHA members have a voice. Those that speak do have an impact—the launch of a three year public awareness campaign was well received and Tonya Surman’s keynote speech had an impact on many participants.

 
Very corporate language has crept into the overall understanding of the organisation. Sylvia Patterson’s opening remarks referred to ‘the new normal’ of life after strong government support. It came across as a retrenchment speech, not as a call to action. Perhaps because of the strong relationship with government (i.e. the plenary was sponsored by the provincial ministry of housing) it is hard for ONPHA to be a strong advocate for a third sector that is neither corporate or state, something CHFC and other co-op sector organisations excel at.

 
The three year public awareness campaign, which can found on line at housingopensdoors.ca, should be effective in raising awareness of the value of affordable housing across society—from jobs creation to health care costs.
Tonya Surman, from the Centre for Social Innovation, gave an excellent key note presentation. I particularly liked the image of fixing the future. CSI has served as a real incubator of new approaches to working together that the third sector has nurtured. Tonya touched on a number of organisation from collaborative funding (community bonds) to rethinking the ways organisations make decisions.

++++++++++

In all the workshops I attended participants wanted to talk. The number of participants and structure of the workshops sometimes limited the participation to responses to workshop leader(s) or even no direct interaction. All the leaders were knowledgeable about the topic, open to ideas and challenges (during the workshop or afterwards) and enthusiastic presenters.

 
The majority of participants are women, although a larger portion of males that I have seen in recent gatherings of co-ops and non-profits.

 
ONPHA does an excellent job in selecting topics that meet the needs of board, staff and tenants of non-profits. Some are very practical ones, such as reading financial statements or finding alternative financing; some are on issues related to affordable housing such as food security; some are on issues such as when to call children’s aid or what to do when a tenant dies that are essential to building safe and secure communities.

NOTES FOR A MORE COHERENT AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRESENTATION

NOTES FOR A MORE COHERENT AFFORDABLE HOUSING PRESENTATION
4:00 p.m., July 10, 2012
Special Housing Working Group
Toronto Reference Library

We tend to become nostalgic for times when it seems our dreams could come true.    Those of us who have been advocating for generations for safe, affordable housing for all can look back to the times of the UN Habitat 1 in Vancouver and Habitat 2 in Istanbul when Canada took a lead on the world stage in successfully supporting the idea of housing as a human right.   We can remember David Crombie, then the mayor of Toronto, flying to Ottawa at the last minute to successfully arguing with CMHC to support the funding of Don Area Co-operative Homes.    We remember better times.

We also remember bad times.   We remember the ending of affordable housing programmes, the slashing of welfare rates and the return to the Victorian concept of making distinctions between deserving and undeserving poor.    Perhaps more seriously we saw the end of the concept of long term planning in social policy. The time when elected members of the Liberal, NDP and Progressive Conservative parties found ways to put aside temporary partisan concerns and attempted to find solutions to problems that would last beyond an election cycle has faded.

The selling off of Toronto social housing stock is a short term solution to a long term problem.    Money is needed to repair social housing stock.   And the selling of houses in desirable neighbourhoods would bring in a welcome burst of cash.   But the problem of insufficient resources to ensure the ongoing viability of social housing stock won’t be addressed.   Underfunding of long-term replacement reserves and the continued need to defer routine maintenance in order to respond to more serious problems will continue.

The terms of the proposed sale are themselves problematic and make access to affordable housing a little more difficult.    Selling the housing at market and not at the accessed value continues the pressure to drive up the price of home ownership in Toronto, making it more difficult for middle income households to afford to put a home in Toronto.     We lose affordable housing stock while making home ownership a less viable dream for many.

There are some creative solutions being proposed that would keep the detached houses that are to be sold as affordable housing—-I am particularly impressed by the land trust model proposed by the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto.  But while these efforts will preserve the affordable nature of the social housing under discussion, such sales will not guarantee the long term viability of the affordable housing that the City of Toronto is the stewards of.   Such sales will not address the problems that will come at the end of the operating agreements with the end of many subsidy programmes.   They will not address the need to massively retrofit or tear down and rebuild high rise communities.    They will not even address the need to solve insect infestations and leaking taps 10 years from now.

In conservative times it is hard to raise the reality of more funds must come from the government, but it is dishonest not to do so.  Our shared resources are needed to kick start redevelopment initiatives such as has happened at Regent Park, to properly fund replacement reserves and other long term capital expenditures, and even to meet the maintenance expectations of the Residential Tenancy Act.   Our shared resources are needed to provide the subsidies for low income residents, to provide personal supports so that people can live independently and for the community supports so that social housing is not only affordable, but safe and desirable housing.

New affordable housing is important.   Sustaining the existing affordable housing stock is also important.    In order to meet these concerns we need a return to a spirit of co-operation in the political sphere.  It wasn’t all that long ago that NDP, Liberal and Progressive Conservative MPs came together to support the United Farm Workers.   Currently there is an all-party committee looking at ways of supporting co-operatives.   This spirit must find a way into the discussions around the need for ongoing and adequate funding for the provision of safe, secure, decent and affordable housing for all.

We must be honest in our political debates and make it clear that we are asking for housing to be a spending priority of all levels of government.   We are competing with others for a limited pool of resources.   Yet, like health care and education, housing is a universal need and, as Canada has so eloquently argued in the past, a human right.   The state has an obligation to ensure that rights are not an abstraction but are expressed in concrete and measurable ways.    We may have disagreements about the way to fund education and health care but there seems to be universal agreement in Canada that the government plays a central role in ensuring access to proper medical care and to quality education.    Housing should be equally valued and supported.

On the second Tuesday of the month at the Church of the Holy Trinity is a memorial service for homeless people that have died on the streets of Toronto. We must keep these people in mind when we discuss housing.   We also need to keep in mind those that a loss of a job or end of a relationship can mean the loss of a home.   We need to keep in mind those that are inadequately housed or paying a substantial amount of their income for housing.    Affordable housing and supports of all forms are needed—from emergency shelters to shelter allowances to inclusive zoning to in-home support services to mortgage subsidies for new housing initiatives to preserving existing housing stock—for those that are homeless, for those that have resources but can’t find a place they can afford and for those that are at risk of losing their homes.      It is simple to say that the money is the solution, but that is the case.    The selling off of social housing stock to provide funds for other social housing stock is clear evidence of this.    But that doesn’t solve the problem, or even defer it for long.    To ensure there is housing for all we need to reach into our pockets to pay for it.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE 2012 CHFC AGM

The CHFC AGM ended two days ago for most, but yesterday for me. As the newly elected Ontario Regional Director my Sunday morning was spent at an orientation for new Ontario Council members and CHFC directors followed by an Ontario Council meeting followed by a CHFC board meeting. This was the end of a week-long gathering of the co-op housing clan. It was a tiring, renewing, reflective and inspiring time, an opportunity for sharing concerns and dreams that is all too rare.

A regret I have about the week as a whole was one of timing—I was not able to attend mass at the Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church. The chapel, on the edge of the Cistercian’ Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre, dates back to 1837, and is a place dedicated to the inclusive vision of peace for all within creation. Because meetings I was required to attend coincided with all the mass times during my stay in Niagara Falls, I lost an opportunity to share with other people of my faith time in purposeful prayer.

A regret I have about the AGM, of both the Ontario Region and CHFC meetings, is the lack of resolutions coming from the broader membership. This has been explained to me as common in mature movements, where practical matters such as preservation of housing stock, becomes the role of the movement. I don’t totally accept this. Yes, after decades of work a major purpose of CHFC is providing member services rather than movement building, but the movement part of co-operative housing needs to be nourished as well to ensure the ongoing viability of the movement. Local co-ops help to provide direction for, and sustain the work of, the broader sector when they bring forth matters for shared consideration. Issues such as Aging in Place and the need to support new and emerging leadership are recent examples of the membership providing leadership. It would be great to have far more of this.

My being at the AGM as part of the elected leadership and not a delegate is still a bit confusing. I am not there to take or lead workshops; I have little role in the debates on the convention floor; I don’t even have a real role in dealing with visitors or politicians. What I am present for is to meet with others elected to make decisions and to listen, to find out from CHFC’s members what they want the organisation to do and learn about difficulties and challenges that CHFC can respond to. This is an informal role, which I am not really comfortable with—I’m not a social being.   The limited numbers of people I feel comfortable with have been active in the sector for years and have no hesitation about sharing their views on the convention floor or in calls and emails to staff and board.

The national AGM meeting was more of a celebration than a organisational meeting. Excerpts from the play Journey to Tompkinsville, speeches and greetings from co-op partners and leaders from the International Co-operative Alliance Housing and similar addresses filled up a substantive part of the meeting. There wasn’t a lot of questioning of the annual report, the report on follow-up to resolutions from last year’s meeting or the financial report. One question, asking if there was an investment policy with a concern about ethical screening, did bring up a nostalgic memory of my having asked a similar question in the 1980s. The answer back then was that the movement was working on it; the answer this year was yes with an offer to provide a copy of the policy.

There was one motion that I did speak do—a call on CHFC to work with other sectors to press to keep co-op and non-profit housing affordable. One key point I made that as a person whose family has benefited from having a subsidy in the past, I know how important such programmes are. Another was that CHFC is the most effective body in the non-profit world in terms of mounting a political fight. The motion was the most political one dealt with and was a reminder that there is an idealistic core to the movement.

After the AGM and prior to the closing dinner, I attended a reception for co-ops receiving loyalty awards from CHFC.  These are awards for co-ops with 20 or 30 consecutive years of membership.   DACHI, when I live, and CoAction, which I am the executive director of, both received an award for 30 years of membership this year.   I received the award on behalf of DACHI.

For the first time in all the years I’ve attended the CHFC AGM I attended the closing dinner. It wasn’t an enjoyable experience and I’ll likely forgo the experience in the future. I am not a social person. It remains very stressful to engage in social banter with others. I can stand at a microphone to take part in a debate; I’ve stood in front of over 40,000 people to give a fundraising speech at a major demonstration; I’ve been in front of charging police on horseback—all are far easier to deal with than sitting down to share a meal with people I have known for years.

Sunday morning I ran between three meetings—an orientation for newly elected board and council members, an Ontario Council meeting and a CHFC board meeting. There are people who have been part of the leadership of the movement for generations (mysteriously I seem to be among them) and others for whom this was their first AGM.  The only specific role I left the meetings with was as the CHFC board appointee to the Finance and Audit Committee. I didn’t find the meetings difficult—-I felt welcomed to the national table and I have served two terms on Ontario Council—but I found the need to run from one to another difficult. In the fall this running will be even more challenging—leaving the Ontario Council meeting in Toronto to fly to Ottawa for the CHFC board meeting.

The CHFC AGM is now history. Its Facebook page has disappeared. It exists in files, in photos, in memories. Those that came together have departed to places as far away as Kenya and Victoria. Our movement is still strong. It brings together young and old, first nations and immigrants, low income families and well off professions, who share a commitment to diverse communities of affordable member controlled housing. I look forward to next year’s AGM in Calgary.

With the exception of board meetings of DACHI, CAIC, St. Clare’s, 43rd Co-op, SCM and TNRC, I have no meetings until the fall.

THOUGHTS FOR CANDIDATE SPEECHES WHILE RUNNING FOR THE CHFC ONTARIO REGIONAL DIRECTOR

It’s getting towards the end of the election period. On-line voting for the CHFC Ontario Regional began April 15th and will be closing May 15th, a few days from now. When I’ve ran for CHF positions in the past voting was done at the CHFC AGM. There were all-candidates meetings, opportunities to meet with and talk to delegates, sharing of ideas and participating in debates on issues of the day. This time the election is being done on-line in advance of the AGM. While I’ve had the chance to meet some delegates at the regional meetings I’ve been able to attend, most of the people who can cast a vote will remain strangers to me as they make their decision at computers from Windsor to Timmins to Cornwall to Thunderbay.

It is hard to wait while one’s skills and ideals are being weighed. All those running for a CHFC position—from CHF Ontario Council to the Audit and Finance Committee to the CHFC Board of Directors—share a strong commitment to the co-op housing movement and have something unique to contribute. Each of us running brings something of value to the movement and each of us hopes that the co-op delegates want us to bring our voice to the leadership table. But in the near future some of us will have convinced the majority of voters to support us while others of us will deal with the real pain that comes from being rejected by our peers.

I do feel I can make important contributions to debates at Ontario Council and the CHFC Board of Directors—both of which the Ontario Regional Director sits on.   I have experience in development—I’m the president of a non-profit that has developed close to 500 units of new affordable housing in 12 years. I have experience in funding co-operatives from the perspective of a lender—I’m the president of the Canadian Alternative Investment Co-operative which has provided financing to housing co-ops, worker co-ops, community loan funds and other forms of grass roots initiatives across Canada.

I have experience in other co-operative endeavours, from starting food buying clubs to being a member/owner of a worker co-ops to assisting in the winding down of a credit union. I believe that in the diversity of expressions of the idea that people sharing their own resources to meet their individual and communal needs, which is the core of the co-operative vision, is the expression of the type of world I want to live in.

Since 1984 I have lived in Don Area Co-operative (DACHI) and have served my home co-op in many capacities from delivering newsletters to drafting policies to serving on the board. DACHI is a 75 unit federally funded co-op, with units developed under two different programmes.

For 15 years I have co-ordinated 43rd Housing Co-operative, a 106 unit provincial/municipal co-op.

I have twice reached term limitations while serving on the board of the
Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto—once representing member housing co-ops and once representing staff associations.

I will be reaching the end of my second term on the CHF Ontario Council at the June AGM. During most of this period I served as treasurer of Ontario Council and on the Finance and Audit Committee of CHF Canada.

I have served the co-op sector in many ways from sitting on the board of Rooftops Canada and the CHFT Charitable Fund to chairing members’ meetings and facilitating workshops to meeting with politicians.

I value the different views on members have on what is important to their co-op communities and try to learn from everyone who shares in our movement. I have been there when our movement has suffered setbacks and been there when we’ve had important victories that secured our control over our co-op homes.

On occasion I reflect on issues, from the need to add a new co-op principle dealing with co-ops as employers to a desire to fund housing instead of the military, that lead to postings on my blog.   These musing can be found at:  https://morecoherent.wordpress.com/category/co-operatives/

It would be great if questions for those running for a CHFC position could be posted on CHFC’s Co-op Talk.    (http://www.chfcanada.coop/cgi-local/cooptalk/discus.pl) .   We may not be having all-candidates meetings for those running for all positions but Co-op Talk provides opportunities for exchanging ideas and information.

DACHI has been a wonderful place to live and raise a family. I want such safe, affordable, secure and member controlled co-op housing to continue to be their for our current members and to explore ways to develop new co-op communities across Canada. I bring skills and dreams to the leadership tables and hope that the Ontario co-ops will trust me to work with them in sustaining and renewing our movement.