View Court Housing Co-op

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About our Housing Co-op

Formed as a self-managed housing co-operative since 1980, View Court comprises 32 suites in two characterful buildings dating from early in the last century (1910 & 1911). It is located at 12 West Tenth Avenue in Vancouver. Suites are various sizes: several sizes of bachelors and one-bedroom suites (see floor plan), and two two-bedroom suites in the house next door to the main building.

View Court is owned and operated by its membership. Annual budgets, housing charges, and general policies and procedures are established by twice-yearly general meetings of the membership, and carried out by the Board of Directors and three committees: Finance, Maintenance, and Membership. Facilities include a very attractive backyard with a garden (including a small number of member-managed vegetable plots); laundry machines; a meeting area; a secure street level bike room; and secure storage lockers. Member groups in the co-op are actively involved  in gardening, recycling, sharing a wireless network and some bulk food purchases. Housing charges are typically below market rents for comparable commercial rental housing.

Most suites are fairly small and occupied by individuals rather than families. However, despite people often moving out when they choose to live with a partner or start a family, the membership is very stable with two or three moves a year.  In situations where you wish to have a partner move in with you after being accepted as a full member, there are no guarantees that they will be accepted as an associate member.
 

Housing charges are low and this area of Mount Pleasant has become very fashionable. The intersection of 10th and Ontario has changed significantly since the co-op was formed. Then the building was in disrepair and the neighbourhood was not much better. Now in 2008, young professional couples have flocked to the area to set up home. There has been rapid condo development and this is having a huge impact on the streetscape, especially along the main street corridor. Mount Pleasant is experiencing another Vancouver case of coffee bar led economic development with coffee shops being quickly followed by small quality restaurants then home decoration and fitting showrooms.

View Court lies on the confluence of two of the most important cycle routes in the city. 10th Avenue allows easy cycling from Victoria to Macdonald with few hills and only one full traffic light. Ontario provides the most westerly access to downtown without having to navigate one of Vancouver's bicycle-unfriendly bridges. Instead Ontario connects directly to the seawall cycle route that will take you either way around False Creek or further. For cyclists on their last gasp having made a dash for the Broadway traffic light heading South and uphill, there is even a public water fountain on the South side of the junction! For all the cycle friendliness, parking is still an issue near the co-op. However, the View Court car, part of  Vancouver's Co-operative Auto Network (CAN), is located outside the co-op building on 10th for the use of CAN members.

Who we are
View Court is a friendly, quiet, mutually supportive and diverse community of individuals, working together to maintain and develop a secure and independent home for all of us.

Responsibilities
All members are expected to perform occasional light duties such as vacuuming the hallways, polishing brass fixtures, or mopping the laundry floor. All members are also expected to participate in one of the committees or the Board of Directors, each of which meets about once a month. Together, these communal tasks normally require well under ten hours each month, typically averaging less than half that.

Each new member must purchase $1000 in shares in the co-op, which is refunded (less expenses etc.) upon leaving the co-op. New members may make arrangements to pay part of their share purchase over time. The value of the shares is used by View Court to generate income to help support the operation of the co-op, and also may work in effect as a damage deposit. After one year of active membership, a member may apply for our reduced housing charges fund, which are linked to a percentage of income rather than the fixed monthly "market rate," to a maximum equal to the market rate, and a minimum set by the general membership. This allows members to expect a secure and stable home in spite of fluctuations in their incomes. Availability of the reduced housing charges fund , as well as the actual reduced housing charges rate, is decided by the general membership each year, according to the financial condition of the co-op and the needs of the membership. Apart from a secure home and relatively inexpensive rent compared to the open market, View Court has a friendly atmosphere in which everyone knows everyone else, and individuality is valued and respected as much as social participation. As members of a housing co-operative, we also enjoy other advantages such as lower home insurance rates and discounts at various businesses that recognize the value of supporting the co-operative lifestyle.

We're big on community
Apart from a secure home and relatively inexpensive rent compared to the open market, View Court has a friendly atmosphere in which everyone knows everyone else, and individuality is valued and respected as much as social participation. As members of a housing co-operative, we also enjoy other advantages such as lower home insurance rates and discounts at various businesses that recognize the value of supporting the co-operative lifestyle. View Court is big on Community both within our thin walls and to the outside. We have been involved with Womenfutures in the past and set aside a suite for a PWA. We also sent $500 to support a political campaign to defend housing co-ops in Ontario. We will support co-op policy intervention, community initiatives and the building of new housing co-ops.

VIEW COURT: OUR MISSION, VISION, & VALUES

MISSION:
We are a mixed-income community providing sustainable, affordable, and secure housing for our members.

VISION: We accomplish our mission through socially just action, collective energy, and shared responsibility.

VALUES:

  • We believe in creating a mixed income, diverse, and inclusive community;
  • We believe in collectively supporting our low income members;
  • We believe that members can provide effective management;
  • We believe that member participation, education, and interaction enhance our community;
  • We believe in maintaining the co-op in good repair;
  • We believe in addressing both member and community needs when allocating units; We believe in social justice;
  • We believe in a decisive Board for thoughtful and effective governance; and
  • We believe in being respectful and considerate of our neighbours while enjoying our home.
CO-OPERATIVE PRINCIPLES: these seven co-operative principles are guidelines by which all co-operatives put their values into practice (adapted from CHF/BC and the International Co-operative Alliance).
1st principle: VOLUNTARY and OPEN MEMBERSHIP Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to everyone willing to join who accepts the responsibility of membership, without racial, gender, social, political, or religious discrimination.
2nd principle: DEMOCRATIC MEMBER CONTROL Co-operatives are democratic, run by the members for the members. No decisions are made without member support. All members have an equal say in managing and operating the co-op.
3rd principle: MEMBER ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION Members contribute equitably to and democratically control the capital of the co-operatives. Members receive limited compensation, if any, on shares. Surpluses are used for the following purposes: developing the co-operative, possibly setting up reserves, and supporting other activities approved by the membership. No member can profit on money invested in the co-operative.
4th principle: AUTONOMY & INDEPENDENCE Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.
5th principle: EDUCATION, TRAINING, & INFORMATION Every co-op member has the right and responsibility to participate, to help make decisions and give leadership. Co-operatives have the responsibility to provide education, training, and information for their members so they can contribute effectively to the development of the co-op.
6th principle: CO-OPERATION AMONG CO-OPERATIVES Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by working together; co-ops share ideas and co-operate with other co-ops, working together to help each other solve problems and have a greater political voice at federal, provincial, and municipal levels.
7th principle: CONCERN FOR COMMUNITY While focusing on member needs, co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members.

History of View Court
The View Court building was built in 1911 by Cal Ryan of Ryan's Construction Company, the same firm that built the Hotel Vancouver. Known first as Ryan Court, this building and the duplex that is now 2617 and 2619 Ontario Street, both underwent considerable renovations in 1936. This was in part due to damage caused by a large fire, which destroyed the church across the street. It was at that time that this building was renamed View Court, for when the ruins of the church were cleared away; all the suites on the north side of the building had a magnificent view of the city. In 1981, the residents of View Court successfully carried out plans to reorganize from a private to a resident owned co-operative. View Court Housing Co-operative acquired the adjacent duplex at 2617 and 2619 Ontario St., adding two 2-bedroom suites to the co-op's already existing 30 units.

About Co-Op Housing
There are many kinds of co-operatives: food co-ops, co-op daycares, credit unions, retail co-ops, worker co-ops and housing co-ops. Any group of people can form a co-operative. The members own the co-operative and the co-operative provides a service they need. Housing co-operatives provide housing.

Since the 1930s, Canadians have been building and living in housing co-ops. The people who live in the housing are the co-op's members. They elect, from among themselves, a board of directors to manage the business of the co-op. Each member has one vote. Members work together to keep their housing well-managed and affordable. Over the years, federal and provincial governments have funded various programs to help Canadians create non-profit housing co-ops. The co-ops developed under these programs provide good quality, affordable housing. There are more than 255 non-profit housing co-ops comprising 14,300 units in British Columbia. As a co-op member, you have security of tenure. This means that you can live in your home for as long as you wish if you follow the rules of the co-op and pay your housing charge (rent). As a co-op member, you have a say in decisions that affect your home. You and your neighbours own your homes co-operatively. Members form a community that works together to manage the co-op. Co-op communities are made up of all kinds of people - people with different backgrounds and incomes and special needs. These diverse and vibrant communities are the unique strength of the co- op housing movement.

Living in a Housing Co-op
Being a co-op member means having control over your housing. It also means you have a responsibility to make sure that your co-op is a well-managed and pleasant place to live. If you join a co-op, you will be expected to do the following:
  •  Buy shares in the co-op
  •  Pay a monthly housing charge
  •  Attend committee meetings
  •  Participate in running the co-op
  •  join a committee or the board
  •  help with light maintenance during work parties
  •  organize social events 
Before you apply to become a member, ask yourself if you will have the time and energy to participate in your co-op. The above guidelines are part of the co-operative principles which all co-operatives put into practice:
  •  open membership
  •  democratic member control
  •  economic participation
  •  independence
  •  co-operative education
  •  co-operation with other co-operatives
  •  community. 
View Court participation
Survival of a co-op depends upon members participation in the running of the building. Co-op members are responsible for contributing in three ways:
  •  By becoming a member of a least one of the operating committees
  •  By carrying out assigned chores. Each member generally receives one chore to do every other month which is carried out for a month's duration.
  •  By participating in periodic work parties around the Co-op.

Finance Committee
The Finance Committee is responsible for preparing an annual budget and presenting this to the general membership at the Budget General Meeting around March of each year.

Membership Committee
The Membership Committee is responsible for finding suitable new members for the co-op. This committee regularly advertises, interviews, and selects new members and maintains an ongoing waiting list for suites. It also coordinates suite switches among members and mediates in co-op related issues of grievances, which may arise between or among co-op members. As well, it also organizes social events.

Maintenance Committee
The Maintenance Committee is responsible for the general upkeep and repair of the building and the suites. Maintenance sometimes organizes work parties to carry out tasks, which arise in the course of up keeping the building and the grounds.

The Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is made up of representatives from each of the above operating committees. There are four executive positions on the Board itself: President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer. All board members are elected at the Annual General Meeting by the general membership for a one-year term. The Board is legally responsible for the operation of the Co-op during its term of office. It receives recommendations from the various committees regarding new or revised co-op policy and makes policy recommendations to the general membership. The Board is the legally constituted governing body of the Co-op, but ultimate authority rests with the general membership who may dismiss any or all board members prior to the end of their term at a specially called general meeting. All Co-op members in good standing are eligible for election to the Board and there is no limit to the number of times a member can serve on the Board.

Who Lives in Co-Ops?
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 housing charge. This is often called a "market" housing charge. Other members with lower incomes pay less. This is called a reduced housing charges fund. Some units in every co-op receive reduced housing charges which may be referred to as subsidy if the Co-Op currently has a mortgage agreement with CHFBC.

What is the reduced housing charges fund?
Many non-profit housing co-ops receive money from the government (federal and/or provincial) to help the co-op subsidize a certain number of housing units. In July 2006, View Court paid off its mortgage and therefore , no longer received money from the government for these units.  As a housing co-op, we have a commitment to continue to provide affordable housing to low income members.  Therefore we provide our own internal fund comprised of a portion of each members housing charges into a "reduced housing charges fund". The housing charge for these units is adjusted to the income of the household. If a household qualifies for the reduced housing charges fund, our formula is 34% of your gross income or 65% of the market rate, whichever is higher.  We do not include utilities as the co-op pays for these collectively.  At this time, View Court is not accepting applications for reduced housing charges. Applicants must be making 3 times the housing charges in order for their application to be accepted .

Market and Non-Market units
The City is maintaining lists for market and non-market/subsidized rental housing with a priority focus, in accordance with Council's resolution, on renting to tenants who work in Vancouver with an emphasis on front-line workers in healthcare, public safety, and public education. Estimated "Market Rents":
1-Bedroom (640 sq.ft.) $1601/month
2-Bedroom (906 sq.ft) $1902/month
3-Bedroom (1223 sq. ft) $2096/month
4-Bedroom (1480 sq. ft.) $2368/month
City contact for market and non-market subsidized rental housing:
E-mail: olympicvillagerentals@vancouver.ca
Phone: 604.673.8285  http://vancouver.ca/olympicvillage/contact.htm#housing

How do I apply for co-op housing?
Most co-ops have waiting lists of people who would like to move in. These lists are particularly long for people who need reduced housing charges. The standard wait to get into a housing co-op is between three months and three years.

Most co-ops have long waiting lists and you can generally expect a three-month to three-year wait. Waiting lists are longer if you require reduced housing charges. Since most co-ops have their own list, you apply to each co-op separately. CHF BC no longer accepts applications for co-ops.

  • Check a list of co-ops currently accepting applications from the Co-op Directory on the COHO website
  • Write to each co-op that interests you, and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope so they can mail you their application
  •  Fill out and mail back the application form sent by each co-op. In the application you will be asked about your household, your income, and your skills. This helps the co-op to know whether you are a suitable fit for the Co-Op. If you do not meet the financial requirements (currently 3x rental charges) your application will not be accepted.
  •  While you are on the waiting list, keep your application up-to-date. Let the co-op know if your or your partner's address, phone number, household size, or income changes. We will send out semi regular e-mail reminders to inform us if you wish to remain on our wait list. If you do not keep us informed by replying, you will be removed from the wait list. As well, if we are unable to contact you by phone or e-mail, you will be removed from the wait list.
  •  Each month we will be conducting a group tour of one or two suites and common areas within and on the surrounding grounds. This is an opportunity for you to get an idea of View Court and to see if this is a good fit for your living choices. If, after the tour, you are not interested in View Court, please inform us to remove you from the wait list.If you remain interested in View Court and we feel you would make a good fit with our existing membership community, we will select applicants for an interview.

  • As well, each month, we will be conducting one interview in conjunction with our membership Meeting. Depending on your place on the wait list you may be contacted anywhere from a few weeks to a few months after the tour to attend a 20 to 30  minute interview. The interview gives you a chance to learn about the co-op and find out what is expected of members. Sometimes we conduct larger interviews where up to 6 applicants may also be interviewed that same night. Depending on your place on the wait list, you may be asked to wait up to 1.5 hours while the other candidates are completing their interviews. If you have questions about the co-op, this is a great opportunity to ask us. Attendance at these orientations is very important! If you do not show up to an orientation or interview that you agreed to, you will be removed from the wait list.

  • Within a day or so, you will be contacted by one of our Members about whether or not you have been accepted to View Court.
  •  Once you've been accepted to join a co-op, your application will be moved to the 'Accepted Applicants' wait list which is much shorter than the Applicants list. When we are in need of filling a suite,we try to select from the accepted wait list to see who is available. We ask that our members give us two months notice of their plan to vacate View Court so we could inform accepted applicants immediately of a vacancy. The information on our website should be sufficient for you to decide if the vacant suite is a good choice. Unfortunately, we cannot allow you to view the suite until the 2 months before it becomes vacant. Once you have accepted a suite, the Membership Committee will assign a 'buddy' to you in order that more detailed questions as to the Financial process, move in procedures, keys, and important topics such as participation and respect for neighbours i.e. Noise between suites.
  • Upon moving in you will be asked to pay $1000.00 in shares. CHF BC runs two programs to assist those in special need to afford the initial share purchase: Disability Trust and the Domestic Violence Relief Fund.
  •  Regardless of where you may be on the Application list or accepted wait list, the Membership Committee will continue to assess whether or not you would make a good fit for View Court. Numerous hours are spent by both applicants and members to ensure co-operative and positive people move in to our diverse community.